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November 29, 2023

Rare as these events might be, sometimes fate will give you clear examples of how good and bad luck may only be separated by the sheerest of margins.

(And for those of you who follow these blogs, the association of my recently-purchased VW Jetta sportswagen with the concept of good fortune at all has been even more rare.)

But, as in many of the better true New York City stories, these scratch-your-head moments do occasionally arrive.

I couldn’t believe my great luck a couple of Thursdays ago. I decided to take a late night walk around the block and upon my return trip down West 87th Street was shocked at this sight now before me: a parking space big enough for two on the opposite side! Should I move my parked car and take advantage of this unexpected and unusual opportunity, I wouldn’t have to wake up early in the morning and spend ninety minutes waiting around for a street-cleaning truck that may or may not ever arrive. I immediately hopped into my nearby car and flawlessly performed this maneuver.

What great luck!


After contentedly sleeping in for the first time in what seemed like months, I took a phone call from my friend Steve and agreed to meet for our bi-weekly cup of coffee. I noticed there was now an empty space in front of my apartment, meaning all I’d need to do to avoid that street cleaner yet again the following Monday would be to move the car once more. Before even saying hello, I reached for my keys and began running towards the miracle of last night’s parking spot.

But then the reality of the situation hit me clearly. No automobiles were parked along a five-car section of the street. New tar was now covering up whatever road work had been performed for the past several hours. A sign had been taped to a nearby tree, which would likely have been close to invisible to me in the 11:30pm darkness.

“No parking this Friday Morning”.

In ridiculously small print, we were informed that all persons believing their vehicles had been towed should call 311 for support.

What — terrible luck!

Instead of walking straight to the coffee shop, Steve and I headed towards the 20th precinct on West 82nd while my iPhone eventually had me talking to a person who didn’t have any information to share about a towed VW Jetta. We waited a good while in line at the actual station, only to have the officer eventually inform me that the precinct we needed was the 24th, on West 100th Street. He graciously gave me the phone number as we didn’t expect to journey that far. I called on the way to the coffee shop and they had no pertinent information either. Those Con Ed people, they said, sometimes don’t report towing vehicles till the last minute - although the next step would be to list the car as stolen should nothing show up in the system for much longer.

Yep…. Bad luck…

I knew I was probably being faced with both a hefty fine and an afternoon in the Bronx somewhere, searching auto yards for my towed car, but I didn’t let it interfere with my coffee. For the next hour or so, Steve and I sat at our normal table and, as is our wont, chatted incessantly.

I wasn’t even sure if the original sign was posted by Con Ed workers, but when I returned to West 87th Street there they were, working on the other side. I informed one of them my car had been towed; he quickly declared he’d had nothing to do with it. I said, well - obviously some work has been done, but his partner quickly backed up the story, insisting they hadn’t called for a tow truck the entire day. Then a third person emerged from out of the blue to let me know there was a company doing road work called Niko construction. I googled and found nothing. He graciously spelled the name Nico correctly for me. I figured this time I’d use the laptop at my apartment to google once again.

Nico Pavement is a road construction company from Brooklyn that has so far garnered a Yelp review of only one star. I dialed the number and was immediately put on hold. A man came on and eventually asked for my license plate number and make of car. He then put me on hold again and the canned-in music continued for close to five minutes. My expectations were low.

But this man’s voice sounded much more vibrant when he got back on the line.

“Your car is now at 564 Amsterdam Avenue. You can simply walk over and start it back up. You’ll find no fines or tickets waiting for you!”

How could this be?… “Do you know what the cross streets are?” I asked.

He did not.

I googled the address. If he was correct, my car was only one block away, on Amsterdam between 87th and 88th.

I took the short walk and there it was, although there was some paper clinging to the windshield. It was probably one o’clock in the afternoon; more than likely five different sets of parking tickets had already accumulated.

But no… The paper merely stated that this automobile had been towed and should be spared tickets of any kind for the entire day.

So somehow this company managed to tow my car into a safe parking space only a four-minute walk away… When has something like this ever happened before?!

Seeing as road work was still being done, I immediately chose the fairly illegal move of backing onto West 87th from my current location as my best option; there was bound to be a host of great parking spaces waiting for me.

I patiently waited for the Amsterdam Avenue traffic to clear and within two minutes this particular maneuver was again flawlessly performed. I was now parked, perfectly legal and safe, only a few buildings away from my apartment.

What GREAT luck!!

Although - what would I have done had I not run into that ONE guy who informed me about a company called “Nico Pavement”?

My car would probably still be missing - despite being so nearby - which would have been TERRIBLE luck!!

But that’s not what happened. I’ll continue to view this one New York City story as an example of fortunately being at the right place at the right time.

Which maybe to a degree makes up for the night, roughly six months prior, when my catalytic converter was stolen on this exact street. That was some bad luck indeed.

Although I managed to get a temporary pipe replacement which got me through my working summer on Martha’s Vineyard just fine. Yes, that was a positive thing…

Although we still haven’t found a replacement converter, all this time later… Can’t say that’s so lucky…

Although the husband of a niece told me this past Thanksgiving Weekend he might be able to fix things at a cost much less than mechanics have been giving me so far…

Which, of course, would be extremely fortunate…

Good luck and bad…

So easy to distinguish but certainly not worlds apart!


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