Carol Scudder

Open To Stuff....

A Simple Task (Lucy-style)

So ... a friend asked me to "car-sit" for him while he and his family went to Vieques for vacation. Not an uncommon request among car owners in New York City, as it eliminates expensive parking, either at the airport, or in some other parking garage, and can be a nice thing for the car-sitting friend, who, being car-less, might enjoy having a car for a week.
I did not get to enjoy having a car this time, as I didn't have time to go anywhere requiring a car. But that's no big deal. I was still happy to do it and it was no trouble.

I didn't even have to move it to a new parking place while it was on our street as per NYC alternate side parking rules, though I thought I had to, so I did. Then found out it was "Orthodox Easter Good Friday", something I didn't even know existed, much less was worth suspending parking rules for. (There must be a powerful Orthodox Easter lobby in Albany.)
Anyway, the day of their return, Orthodox Easter Sunday, I headed over to Laguardia to pick them up. Again, no big deal, it's only about 20 minutes away, maybe 30 with traffic.
But I don't drive that much - so - when I do, especially on the highway (BQE/Grand Central) - there's always a little period of "adjustment". This "adjustment period" always goes fine (thus far - knock on wood - etc) -- it's just a little ... nerve wracking at first. The speed limit on the BQE is 45 - I was going 55 - and cars were whizzing around me like it was "Autobahn Day" in Queens, rather than Orthodox Easter Sunday. Never the less, I took a deep breath, held my own, and chose not to go 70 in a 45 zone, but stuck with 55. If the "speeders" wanted to pass me, then they could. So there.
Soon, I arrive the the airport (e.g. - I see the sign, note the lane I'm supposed to be in, and actually get into it in time. Good job!) And then try to figure out where I'm supposed to park.
(they've got a kid, so better that I park and go meet them, rather than just pulling up and hustling everyone in the car, which is how I prefer to be picked up at the airport, by the way - in case you're ever picking me up at the airport - just pull up and let me hop in. Don't make me walk anywhere else. Thanks.)
I easily found a short term parking garage. Parking Garage 2 it's called.
I felt good to have figured this out so easily. I'm smart! Yay!
I parked, made sure I knew where my little ticket for the parking garage was, then put some small items into a gift bag. I'd noted earlier in the day, via Facebook, that it was my friend's wife's birthday (she's my friend to, but I've known him longer, so she's still my friend's wife, even though she's also my friend, see?) anyway - I'd put together a little present for her. I'm thoughtful! Yay!
But when I checked for that little parking ticket again, I couldn't find it. Crap! It's time for their plane to land. Damn it!
I search and search, all through my bag, my pockets, the floor of the car, under and behind the seats, on and on - for a good 10 or 15 minutes. Starting to freak out (I mean ... what do you do if you don't have your ticket? Will they let you out???) I checked my pocket one more time, and there it was; in that weird way where an item seems to have been spirited away by aliens and then - is suddenly replaced, right where you've been looking the whole time. 
So then they texted me. (my friends - not the aliens).
They'd landed but were still taxiing on the runway. Great! I noted the aisle I'd parked in, E - level 1 - and headed for baggage claim.
"Hi - can you tell me how to get to Delta's baggage claim?" I asked a young man wearing an "I work at the airport" red jacket.
"Just take the shuttle bus out front..." he began.
"Shuttle bus?" I whined, "... really? But I just parked the car here! In that parking garage!"
Well that's the wrong one you dope! - I'm sure he thought, but didn't say.
"Oh! well that's Parking garage 2, you need parking lot 4." he said, warmly. "You get 15 free minutes, so if you hurry, you probably won't have to pay."
He didn't know, of course, that I'd just spent close to 15 minutes looking for the parking ticket that aliens had snatched, held for some sort of testing, then placed back into my pocket.
I go back to the car, aisle E, level 1, follow the circuitous route to the exit and explain that I parked in the wrong place.  "Maybe I can just "not pay" this time?" I ask the tired looking attendant. "I accidentally picked the wrong garage - so I've got to move to another one."
"It's $3.00". He says, flat as a pancake.
OK fine. $3. Got it. I pay, then ask if he can direct me to Parking Lot 4.
He says something about, "left this, right that, follow the signs" and so on.
"Thanks." I say.
What did he say?
There are too many roads and signs at Laguardia. I'm sure they could simplify it. Which is why I, somehow - I do not know how (aliens again?) took a wrong turn and ended up in a pile, a scrum, a vast sea really, of yellow cabs waiting to get the thing they get that means they can then go through and pick up a passenger.
Suddenly horns were blowing and a man, Indian or Pakistani I'd guess, got out of his cab waving his arms at me and shouting, "I told you go left! Why you not going left? I tell you left left left!!!"
And I'm sure he did say that. Why he thinks I must have clearly heard him and known exactly what he was saying, that he was saying it to me, I don't know. But at the moment it was so clear that he was right and I was wrong that it seemed not the time to parse why I failed to understand him.
Most of the other drivers were looking at me by then, shaking their heads and holding their hands up to God, Allah, Ganesh - whomever - asking that the burden of dealing with this strange woman be taken from them.
The man who'd tried to get me to go "left left left" decided to save me. His disdain lessened and was replaced by something resembling pity/amusement. Maybe he was a fan of I Love Lucy, and this seemed like something Lucy would do. (I hate it when I turn into "Lucy" - but that happens to everybody? Right? Right?)
So he and another gentlemen, slender with long gray dreadlocks and a beard, also laughing at me and shaking his head, (another Lucy fan I'll bet) got other cabs to back up, and then, together, they moved a huge, heavy industrial barrier thing and pointed me to freedom.
"Thank you so much! I'm so sorry!" I yelled back to them, careful to keep my eyes on the road. It would be a shame to break free of the taxi cab morass only to crash into ... well anything really.
I finally reached the sweet, sweet rightness that was Parking Lot 4. Parked, went in and met my friends, presented the birthday present, and was soon dropped off, back home, safe and sound.
Simple task completed, and feeling personally "simpler" than ever.
There are many things I am good at. Driving in unfamiliar places that require lots of sign reading and direction following is not one of them. But ... I can work on that right? Left? Exit? And everybody loves Lucy don't they? They do.