April 20, 2024
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April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I had to spend the day in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago, for some reason or other. I just got back.

Okay, I don’t live close. I live all the way in Passaic, which is 21 whole miles from where I was going. But no matter where you live, sooner or later you end up in Brooklyn. In fact, scientists have shown that Brooklyn is the exact center of the universe. And also that all living beings, or their parents, originally came from Brooklyn. I was actually born in Brooklyn myself. (Well, not myself. I had help.) But then at some point when I was little my parents decided to move the family to Monsey to teach us about grass and elbow room and driving into Brooklyn to go shopping.

And since then, I’ve never had a desire to move to Brooklyn. No offense to Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a fun, happening town. Even non-Jews look at Brooklyn as a hipster, trendsetting town full of people who wear hats or scarves. Brooklyn is a really great place that attracted a ton of people, like a fun party, but they forgot to put up a “Maximum Occupancy” sign.

And I have no real interest in living somewhere where the first conversation you have when you get anywhere is about whether you found parking okay.

I would never live in Manhattan either. But the thing about Manhattan is that nobody really lives in Manhattan. They just go there during the workday to walk side by side really slowly on the sidewalk in front of you. But at night, everyone goes home. Whereas in Brooklyn, nights are even more crowded. There’s no good time to go.

Brooklyn is all about cars stopped in the middle of the street for no reason, and you have to get around them because you have a green light and the people behind you are about to start cutting you off.

And yes, the average driver ignores the laws of traffic safety. Everyone drives according to the laws of driving that they make up on the spot, and then communicates those laws to the other drivers via Morse code using their car horns. Sometimes they will use their horns to communicate lengthy, full-blown, well-put sentences, using their fingers for punctuation.

To drive in Brooklyn, you have to be aggressive, by which I mean that you have to have a whole-hearted belief that the laws of physics are not actually your problem. There is no such thing as hazard lights. And no turn signals either, because those ruin the element of surprise. If you signal that you’re turning into a spot, the other drivers will compete for it. You kind of have to pretend you don’t want it—maybe even turn on your opposite blinker—and then, when the person least expects it, suddenly swerve into the spot. Whether or not it turns out to be big enough for your car. Because the worst part of Brooklyn driving is how much time it takes you to find parking. There are no spots anywhere on the block you need to be on, so you circle to another block, as if there are no people who had to be on that block and took all those spaces, and then you hit traffic. And nothing makes you climb the walls of your car more than sitting in the traffic it takes to get to an imaginary parking spot so you can go into a building you passed six times already.

Plus, most of the streets are one way, so you keeping getting into a rut where you’re doing the same circle over and over and can’t figure out how to break out.

That’s exactly what happened to me. After circling the block several times and waiting at various red lights, I finally saw someone getting into his car and pulling out, but I was facing the opposite direction, there were several cars behind me who, I didn’t ask, but I think they may have had places to go, and the light had just turned green. There was no time for me to do a K-turn. So now I get why most of the streets have to be one way.

So I circled the block, and by the time I got back, that space was still there!

Unfortunately, I was still facing the wrong way.

Not that I’m any good at parallel parking. In fact, I’d brought my smaller car, which takes up maybe a half of a parking spot, but is far less intimidating when you’re trying to be aggressive, and not just because it has the high-pitched horn noise of a teenage boy trying to act like an adult when his voice hasn’t changed yet. Most horns say, “Move!” Mine says, “Excuse me?” sometimes with an “Um,” first.

But it’s a tradeoff. Do I want to find a parking spot quicker or get into it quicker?

I did want to get home quicker, and that didn’t really work out.

I left my parking space well before rush hour, hoping to get home before it started. I turned on my GPS, which is a couple of years old and has no idea what traffic is.

“Ooh, 21 miles! Just cut through Manhattan!”

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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