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May 27, 2024


By Kevin Landis

Taking things for granted is a dangerous, stupid and expensive habit to get into. The aforementioned statement is never more true than when you are living in New York City. Life, I've discovered, can be enjoyable or a grind whether you take things for granted or not; and whether you live in New York City or not.

Can you define a crosswalk -- legally, precisely and in agreement with the NYPD? Just a couple of days ago I would have told you a cross walk was a path across a roadway marked by lines, signs, dipped curbs or common sense. This faulty impression cause me to park my van in what appeared to me to be a prime spot on the corner of Hicks and Remsen streets.

My pulse quickened, my breath came shortly I blinked my eyes scanning the block only hours later.

"Was it stolen?" I asked myself, this notion quickly excused itself from my mind, slipping out quietly so as not to attract too much attention. People steal cars. Sometimes they steal vans. Very rarely (or never) do they steal sixteen year old vans with wood panels on the sides.

"It was towed?" This thought brushed past 'was it stolen' as he came in and gave him a nasty, 'why did you even show up' look.

Two days later I found myself sitting across the table from a judge, telling a rolling tape recorder that I promised not to lie.

I showed the judge my slew of pictures. I drew diagrams to help give perspective. I delivered my well-thought-out and over rehearsed defense.

The cold stare that she apparently thought I deserved she was, for some reason, giving to her computer console. I later found out that she was researching the definition of a crosswalk.

They aren't what you think, let me tell you that right off. New York City has always made its own rules. Example: You want to turn right on red, too bad you can't. You want to drive ten miles in under two hours, not here. You feel like letting your dog take a dump when you walk him, bring a bag to take "it" home in.

A cross walk, according New York is a walkway, indicated or unindicated, marked or unmarked, from any corner to the opposite side of the road. Any corner, Anywhere, all the time.

I now imagine them like strange beings that exist on another dimension than us. Some times they choose to manifest themselves with white lines and sloped curbs to make our travel easier. Other crosswalks are villainous evil beings that obscure their identity and coax us into parking our vans near them.

Knowledge: it's really the only weapon we have against these latter ones. We must fight them, lest their allies strike at us with tickets and tow fines.

I spent three hundred and twenty dollars on the definition of a crosswalk. If that doesn't call for a cup of consolation coffee I don't know what does.

I couldn't help but wonder when things would swing my way, when would I get a break, when would the tide turn? So there I was in Starbucks waiting on my tall coffee, the cheapest drink they sell, when It happened.

"Did some one order a grande?" the barista yelled, not to me -- she knew I'd just paid for my tall. No one responded.

She turned to me, "You want a grande?"

"I only paid for a tall."

"I know." She said, giving me a rare New York smile.

Article © Kevin Landis. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-01-30
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