Monday, April 14, 2008

Miami Mondays: Parking!

Parking is a way of life in New York. Either you have what it takes to find a parking spot, or you don’t – in which case your car lives in a garage that costs more than the average monthly rent for a small Miami apartment.

When I moved down here, I was stoked by the possibility that I might have a driveway or, even better (because of some invisible cool-factor) a designated parking spot in a condominium complex. With a valet named Roger. And I would call him Rog. And we would have this system where, when I was in a rush in the morning, Rog would have the car up front waiting for me as I came barging into the garage and, without missing a beat, toss me the keys as I ran for the car. We’d exchange pleasantries (“Morning, Rog!” “Stay cool, Dan!”) and that’s how I’d start my day.

Instead, Brooke and I eschewed high-rise living for a cute two-story building in a quiet part of town. It doesn’t have a garage or a driveway, much less a valet. But it comes with a residential parking pass, so that (theoretically) there is spot reserved for me on the street (somewhere) because I live here.

I can see how the idea seemed good at the time (again, theoretically). But either everyone in my neighborhood owns three cars, or someone in city hall did some bad math. Because when Brooke and I come home late at night (you know, nine, ten o’clock) there usually isn’t a spot to be had anywhere on our block. (Whoever had “1 DAY” in the “Amount of time before Dan turns into the guy who calls the city information hotline to turn in illegally parked cars on his block” pool, congratulations! You win!)

It’s still better than NY, though. In New York, you could spend an entire night looking for a parking spot.

“So what’d you do this weekend?”
“Parked the car.”

One time, I literally spent hours looking for a parking spot on the Upper East side. I was employing all the tricks: Driving up fast behind someone who you know is also looking for a spot in order to make them nervous and hopefully miss one; keeping an eye out for the people who look like they are going to a car (they tend to walk diagonally across the street); driving extra slow when someone is trying to pull the driving-up-fast trick on you, right up until you hit a yellow traffic signal, at which point you gun it through the intersection so they are left behind and you can troll the next block at a leisurely pace. I tried everything. It lasted so long that I had to stop and get pizza. By the time I found a spot, I had spent in gas money what I had hoped to save in garage fees. (I called it a moral victory, but my friends said I didn’t really understand what the word “moral” meant.)

It’s never that bad in Miami. They even have a free parking lot two blocks away reserved just for people in the neighborhood in case there aren’t any spots on the street. Miami is gracious in their inhospitality. Like they really want you to be able to park your car. Honest. It’s just been so hard lately, you know, since the wife left? And I’m getting old and I lose track of things. I forget where I put my glasses sometimes. I hope the parking lot isn’t a big inconvenience . . .

Besides, the price you pay for parking illegally? $23.00. In most cases, that’s cheaper than having to valet your car. I haven’t gotten a parking ticket in New York in a long time, but the last I heard they were up to $850.00 (ballpark).

The only negative difference in Miami? The towing. In New York, you have to literally be parked in the middle of Broadway or on top of a hydrant in front of a three-alarm fire to get towed. One night, I walked past a car that had jumped the curb and slammed into a bus stop sign. The next morning, the car was still there, with a ticket on the window.

Here, though, they don’t fuck around with the towing. A lot of stores and banks in Miami Beach have small, designated parking lots with signs posted that parking for those lots is restricted SOLELY for those stores’ customers. Hence, when that store closes (say, 8 p.m.) if your car is there at 8:01, it gets towed. And the tow companies are on the friggin ball, often waiting there with the truck, watching the hands of the clock tick away. It’s nearly impossibly to drive around the beach in the evening without seeing a tow truck hauling a car. I imagine the towers as the tycoons of Miami, sitting in their mansions on the bay flipping through big-rig catalogues, watching the sun set. Their cats eat Fancy Feast, and every Tuesday Dale has a barbecue on his yacht. Everyone brings their dogs and it’s a hell of a good time. Then they all gather around and sing the tow truck driver anthem, “We are tow truck drivers, we reap what we tow; we eat caviar and drink Chateau Margeaux . . .” and they laugh and laugh and laugh.

As David Caruso would say: “That’s justice . . . Miami style.”


Blogger Tom said...

Have you met David Caruso? Does CSI: Miami really film in Miami, or do they film down the coast in some knock-off Miami look-a-like town because it's cheaper and there's a really good Cuban resturant Bruckheimer likes? Are you going to try and meet David Caruso? And when you do, will you whip off your glasses, David Caruso style, and say something like "Thats. David Caruso."

I bet he'd guest blog here, if you asked him.

April 14, 2008 at 4:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Nicole said...

I think that from now on you should only live where CSI shows are based. You've checked NY and Miami off your list. Next up, Las Vegas!!!

April 14, 2008 at 5:37:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, that tow truck song is going to be stuck in my head all day.

April 14, 2008 at 5:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger -J said...

There were actually news stories on this in the past. The tow truck companies will even employ vagrants to watch for an illegally parked car and give them a cell phone to call in and report it.

April 14, 2008 at 7:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Green said...

Take a look next time someone has their garage door open. Know what you won't see in there? A CAR! I was shocked when I lived in Florida that all these people have garages but fill them with stuff to the point that a car won't also fit in there.

But yeah, that's why you can't find parking. Each person who is of driving age in one family "needs" their own car, and nobody uses their garage.

P.S. Maybe if you ask really nicely, Brooke will call you Rog sometimes.

April 14, 2008 at 9:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Native Minnow said...

I used to live in a place where the tow truck drivers were like that. The highlight of those days was when a group of college students attacked one while he was attempting to tow a car that had literally been parked illegally for two whole minutes.

April 14, 2008 at 11:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger WildbillthePirate said...

Parking fines in NYC: $115.00
Towing: Automatic after 2 summonses
Cost to get your car back:6-800.00

Crashing your car and turning in the plates so you'll NEVER have to pay the fines: Priceless!

April 14, 2008 at 11:41:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Christina said...

I remember when I lived in Brooklyn my roomate and I were coming back froma friends house at around 1 am, we found a spot at 2:30 am, I think it was in was January it was the longest walk ever!

April 15, 2008 at 10:59:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Stacy said...

I love the David Caruso remarks!
They're my fav.

April 15, 2008 at 11:28:00 AM EDT  
Blogger shannon said...

I recently paid a $117 parking ticket ($2 dollar convenience fee? for what exactly???) Also, I recently turned in my plates and sold my car. The two are not unrelated.

April 15, 2008 at 12:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Hollywood Sucker said...

Sounds like the towers is Miami are a lot like the ones in LA. I've never been towed because I'm a chicken when it comes to street parking, but I've heard some bad stories.

And I don't know why, but I'm really excited that you live in Miami.

April 15, 2008 at 1:10:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Eve said...

Ah, the joys of parking in New York. I just moved to a new area in my neighborhood (not telling!) in NY where there's NO ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING!! I got very confused when I looked up and down the street for the "street cleaning between 2 AM and 3:30 AM" signs.

April 15, 2008 at 3:01:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous bacardi & Diet said...

I had a car in NYC for the Summer, and the garage lot across the street from my apt in the UES was $600/mo. I found a cheaper on 1st Ave for $275. When the Summer was over, I sold it.

April 15, 2008 at 3:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger the frog princess said...

With the amount of money I've paid to New York City in parking tickets, they ought to name a Tier after me in the new Yankee Stadium.

This... is why I do not miss having a car.

April 16, 2008 at 12:01:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Paula said...

Okay, no lie: I live in DC and today I went to my car after having left it parked (legally, I might add) on the side street for about a week. I noticed this little pink slip tucked in the windshield and thought, "how the fuck did I get a TICKET? I have a very LARGE permit sticker in my window." I picked it up and it was ACTUALLY just a pink slip of paper saying "This is not a ticket, but we hope it got your attention. We just wanted to make people vigilant that we are tightening enforcement on parking violations..." yadda yadda.

I mean...fake tickets? Some mother fuckers in the DC Parking Enforcement are sitting in their offices laughing their asses off at that one. Your taxpayer dollars probably paid for all those pink slips of paper, too.

April 16, 2008 at 3:19:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Mano said...
Since you have a crush on David Caruso (maybe you've already seen it?)...he's been an ongoing joke with me and the bf for a long time - that and the creepy lady that does the autopsy, you know the one that often says, "what did that bad man do to you baby?" to the dead body...yea it's a little weird.

April 18, 2008 at 1:55:00 PM EDT  

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