Outside my window four parking spaces are filled by a pile of dirty snow that stands six feet tall at its apex. Math geeks can get their slide rules out and calculate the total volume of the snow pile, 14′ x 16′ x 6′. Does anyone even have a slide rule any longer? I had one once. Never figured out what to do with it besides pretend it was a slide trombone on which I pretended to play “When the Saints Come Marching In”. Hey, it passed the time in math class. However, I don’t need a slide rule to conclude that the pile is depressing to observe in a delta system of merging streams of rain water beneath a low gray sky. That’s the killer aspect: the dropping skyline which seems to invite the old buildings to move closer into a tightly packed claustrophobic courtyard, shrinking even further into an over-sized wintry phone booth.
All the charm of a bone pile. How many dry bones would it take to build a mass grave that large? I never want to do that sort of math, counting the residue of human lives like so much rubbish bulldozed into an unholy pyramid. It’s one of those days, though, when winter’s prelude brings death to the forefront. Not any one death in particular, but the entire multifaceted concept of death. Not one candle blown into smoke and orange cinder, but billions of snowflakes disappearing in the 40 degree air. Death can only be considered from this side of the door, the living side. We may speculate about what is on the other side, but the door comes with a panic bar so you fall out of life headfirst. Though dragged back inside for viewing and burial… dead men tell no tales.
One thing is clear for the next five weeks: Rod MMC will not be writing parking tickets in downtown. The merchants have lobbied for and received a reprieve from his parking ticket blizzard during the Christmas shopping season. His orange envelopes will not be missed by anyone except him. Local urban myth has it that he goes off the metered streets during the holidays and writes parking tickets for folks in the residential neighborhoods regarding distance from the curbs or fire hydrants. These are not high priorities during the other 11 months of the year. Such seasonal law enforcement bothers the good taxpayers who complain to the Boro who complain to Rod who waits and stealthily slips orange Christmas cards under windshield wipers with the zest that only passive aggressives can imagine. “Feel the sting of my whip, you bourgeois whiners!”
I guess it’s hard for a man to transition from being the omnipotent power broker, the Boro parking dealer/ pit boss tossing out $5.00 markers, to simply collecting pounds of quarters for the bank to deposit. Once you’ve had that taste of power, well, even a great man may fall under its spell. It’s a far fall from calling the shots to being a punk coin runner.
But, but, what do I see in the early morning light of my LED garage bulb? a slice of neon orange tucked under my passenger side windshield wiper, only the width of a piece of chewing gum. Ah! He got me!! In this joyful season of grace and forgiveness and the baby Jesus!!! Rod marked me for tardiness and inattention to the meter. My five month long no ticket streak has come to an end. I played my cards and bet against the dealer one time too many. Eventually the dealer wins in black jack because the odds favor the dealer. He wins any ties. In the parking lot wars he just wins no matter what.
I need a new strategy so it seems. Rod is on the hunt for the pucker of power, I suppose. Perhaps his idled hands shake with desire to ticket hapless parkers like me. Hmmm. Perhaps I can tunnel in to the snow covered spaces outside my office and hide my car in the snow pile until the spring melt comes. You know, a rough edged igloo garage could work for me. Or I could build a box of mirrors that reflect the cars next to me and thus hide in plain sight. Or I could continue parking at the free lot two blocks away.
I know what you are thinking: Why not just pay for a monthly parking space nearby? They are only $30 per month. It would simply be another business deduction and not a spy versus spy game with Rod MMC ( Meanest Man in C’burg). And that makes perfect accounting sense, the kind of sense practiced by hopeless men in ill fitting white shirts with pocket protectors in back rooms at accounting firms. They sit all day and drink weak tea from twice used budget tea bags, afraid to go home to overbearing wives, they shiver all day. I’m not that guy. I live by my wits on the gritty streets of C’burg, playing cat and mouse with grizzled parking Nazis. (I might be exaggerating a little here, which I am prone to do for dramatic flair.) Anyway, $30 is six parking tickets in a month. I’ve never gotten more than two in the same month. So stick that in your spread sheet and smoke it, Dilbert! Plus, there is this mano y mano jungle struggle between two very different male silverback gorillas for dominance of the range. It’s a fluid chess match with cars and men on a three city block board. Or maybe two stallions fighting for the herd.
Yes, I am pathetic to even entertain such silly thoughts, some of which are actually true. However, like the slide rule diversion in math class decades ago, channeling my inner Walter Mitty helps me pass the time without breaking any laws.