Brooklyn War Stories: Casualty of the Saturn edition

Battle of Brooklyn, still being fought to this day

Moving to Brooklyn war stories: if you’re here now, you’ve got em; I’ve got em, we all do, especially Mr. Darcy, who was bounced around our fine borough like a pinball with tourette’s syndrome during his first few months and can (and maybe will?) share stories of being woken up in a sublet by cops banging down the door and a horribly unfortunate end to an ill-fated internship at certain hippness-centric magazine (hint: its name is synonymous with “lechery.”)

Buddy Alex Weisler over at Brokelyn had an interesting idea: he’s starting his senior year at Penn State soon (managing editor of the Daily Collegian too: Student journalism represent!) and noted that, for many college kids these days, Brooklyn remains the shining holy city on the hill for post-graduation adventures, “a sort of hipster paradise of bloggers, vegans, flannel shirts and facial hair.”

To throw some ice water on those raging hard-ons for Brooklyn, he’s soliciting war stories about what it’s really like to throw yourself at the mercy of the county of Kings. All told, I had a pretty good streak of luck transforming from jobless-homeless-dollarless scalawag to semi-employed semi-housed NY-license holding resident (my main goal was to tread water, and I feel OK at least declaring this one a win).

But I did have one karmic slap-around of note. I sent it to Alex to run on the site (along with my picture again, apparently. … thanks gang). As per usual, I overwrote it by far, so here’s the full version, for your enjoyment or schadenfreude:

Redemption awaits, ye vehicular sinners

I can stand a financial hit associated with moving when it’s expected: security deposit, travel expenses, even clothes for a new job interview. The big karmic skull-fracks that really get me down are the ones that come from the unexpected financial body slams, when New York is saying to you: “Think you’ve made it so far? Suck on this, jerk.”

I had an ill-fated idea of bringing my car into the city when I first moved up in fall 2008: inside were all my worldly possessions I had stuffed inside when I left South Carolina in a rush with laughably little money in hand. It seemed easier to keep it with me through a few months of subletting until I could unload them at a permanent residence.

Alternate side parking quickly revealed itself as a bastard. Then it got towed sometime around midnight for allegedly parking too close to a fire hydrant in Boerum Hill (WHERE’S THE EVIDENCE, NYPD??). For a brief moment, I fantasized that it had been stolen instead of towed, because a stolen car would sorta be less hassle in the long run, and at least it wouldn’t drain me hundreds of nonexistent dollars, plus those were just things in there after all. But then I came to reality and braced for the ignoble and dehumanizing process of reclaiming my car from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the morning. This is a place that I think exists only as a purgatory for the sinner neophytes to New York who dare think they’re important enough to bring their shy car to such an intense parking pantheon. Three hours into purgatory, after much watching the staff search through dusty ole volumes (no computers. Because it’s still 1987 in government), the power of the whole facility cut out, sending the room into darkness. The entire staff was nonplussed went about eating their McDonald’s yogurt cups. When I inquired as to the situation to calm the seething waiting room masses, the staff replied: “it happens every day.”

Once the power came back, the waiting dragged on (for a still undisclosed reason) so long that I had to leave the Kafka-sanctioned facility to do a freelance assignment interview by phone (to earn money. Money that had already been spent on this towing situation). I finally got them to agree to take my $200+, take me to the far reaches of the car graveyard with a shuttle van driver complaining about her bowel movements the whole way, to find my poor Saturn in a corner stuffed with the life I once had, tattooed with its jailed call numbers, and, of course, unable to start when I turned the key. One of the cops climbed in and she managed to kick it over — caused by something about the way they tow them and screw up the axel, she said.

Great, thanks.

I had the last laugh though: to reclaim your car, you’re supposed to have a valid registration. My SC registration had expired a year before, but the good old folks of the Palmetto State don’t put an expiration date on the card. Tim: 1, Brooklyn Tow Yard: uh … 200, I guess. But still…

That weekend, I unloaded the car and drove it back to my mom’s house in New Jersey, where it has sat to this day, through snow, rain, cold and heat, its tow yard numbers still visible on the window. I vowed to never drive in Brooklyn again.

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