How To Park Your Car In Manhattan

Illustration for article titled How To Park Your Car In Manhattan

The perils of New York City parking are legendary. Often times the space between a legal and illegal parking spot is often times no more than one sheet of paper. Here's Kathryn A Higgins' story from Thought Catalog that could probably be just as easily titled "How NOT To Park Your Car In Manhattan." — Ed.


Arrange to drive into Manhattan as early as possible on a Sunday morning so street parking places will be available. You want to avoid paying extortionate prices for a parking lot.

At 7:30 AM, tell your twelve-year-old daughter to finish straightening her hair because it's time to go.


At 7:45 AM, tell your twelve-year-old daughter to brush her teeth NOW.

8:00 AM; depart.

While driving, try to get your twelve-year-old daughter to change the radio station when a Britney Spears song about threesomes comes on.

Breeze through tolls with your EZ Pass, internally congratulating yourself for thinking ahead and making your commute run so smoothly. (You'll feel good about this until EZ Pass automatically deducts $25 from your bank account. Then you'll feel badly.)

Try not to say "motherfucker" in front of your twelve-year-old daughter when a minivan randomly cuts you off at sixty-five miles per hour even though the thruway is practically empty and you're in the middle lane. Fail in your efforts to not say it, and then explain to your twelve-year-old daughter that sometimes, while driving, cursing is healthy and necessary. (As reported in NeuroReport, August 5, 2009 – Undergraduates who shouted their favorite curse words were able to endure more pain, per a study done at Keele University in England. And Timothy Jay, a psychology professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and author of "Why We Curse: A Neuro-Psycho-Social Theory of Speech," said the study furthers the understanding of why swearing has persisted across cultures. "Swearing allows you to emote, to express anger, fear, surprise, joy or frustration," Jay said. "It also allows you to get that anger out and express it unambiguously.")


From the West Side Highway, get on the left side of the double left turn lane at 56th street and wait through four changes of the light without losing your temper despite the recent death-defying trip down the thruway.

Turn into Manhattan proper, stopping suddenly to allow an SUV bully its way in front of you, and then mentally gird yourself to look for a parking place while avoiding having an accident with a cab driver from Tasmania.

Illustration for article titled How To Park Your Car In Manhattan

Ask your twelve-year-old daughter to please stop texting and help you look for a parking place.


Since your blood pressure is rising, smack the radio off in the middle of the lyric "I wanna take a ride on your disco stick."

Spot a gap between parked cars and dart over as quickly and yet carefully as you can. Try to figure out if the curb is painted yellow, or is just yellowed by dirt and urine.


Read the sign and try to figure out why this space is free. Fine text at the bottom of the sign says that these parking spaces are for doctors only, so abandon the space and keep driving.

Spot another gap, this one larger. Dart over again, with cautious alacrity, and observe the fire hydrant towards one end of the space. Try to remember how many feet you need to keep between your car and the fire hydrant. Is it six? Nine? Fifteen? You think it must be an odd number. Park your car and fret about the fire hydrant. Get out and pace back and forth between the fire hydrant and your car. Ask your twelve-year-old daughter if you think you're too close to the fire hydrant. Your twelve-year-old daughter will not know. Finally decide that you're too nervous about the fire hydrant, and drive away.


Avoid the cabs that are stopping randomly in the middle of the street in front of a hotel.

Drive further and further from your destination in order to find a parking place. You are now in some sort of obscure semi-industrial area.


You find another spot, but it is very small. You pull up next to it and try to evaluate whether your car will fit. You determine that it will fit. Attempt to parallel park and fail miserably.

Tell your twelve-year-old daughter to get out of the car so she can guide you as you parallel park.


Scream at her to not just open her street-side door and get out when a car is going by.

Re-attempt parallel parking while your twelve-year-old daughter intermittently waves you backwards and forwards and signals you to stop. She will be nervous and stop you before you actually touch the car behind you . . . demonstrate to her the savvy Manhattan method of parking which involves slight bumper-cars. Enjoy her shocked expression.


You've squeezed into the place; now get out and walk over to the parking rules sign. It will take some time to evaluate the sign so don't forget your coat.

The sign says something about street cleaning Tuesday and Thursday, and something else every other Monday, and something-or-other about snow routes. There's nothing about doctors, but there's something about emergency workers. You notice a fire station down the block.


Trying not to sound irate, you tell your twelve-year daughter to get back in the car. Bumper-car your way out of the narrow spot and resume driving around looking for a parking place.

Wonder aloud to your twelve-year-old daughter whether you should give up and park in a lot.


Just as you are about to give up, you will see a mysterious length of empty curb that is clearly not yellow. There's only one BMW parked on this length of empty curb. You easily glide up behind the BMW and park.

You feel that the ease of parking on this street is some kind of evil harbinger. You get out and study the sign(s). Although there are some restrictions, a little red sign tacked at the bottom says "Except Sunday." You note again the BMW parked there - perhaps that driver and you are just the only smart, lucky, early enough people to find a spot in this particular area. It is somewhat off the beaten path, after all. After studying the signs, you decide to be bold and leave your car in the space.


Congratulate yourself, internally, for not wasting any money on a parking lot.

Meet your friends and then, periodically throughout the day, interrupt people's conversations to ruminate aloud about whether your parking space was legal or not.


From 4:15 PM until 4:43 PM, enjoy nearly a half hour of blissful forgetfulness about your car.

4:44 PM; remember your car and start worrying again.

That evening walk back to your car with your twelve-year-old daughter. Fret out loud the whole way about whether it was a legal parking place, whether your car will still be there or whether it will have been towed, or whether you will have gotten a ticket. Complain a little bit about your feet and how far you've walked that day. Your daughter will roll her eyes and try to listen to her iPod.


Arrive at your car and discover a ticket under your windshield wiper. Say "Shit!" despite the presence of your twelve-year-old daughter. Also say "Goddamn it!" and "Fuck!" under your breath while stomping around.

Your ticket is for $125, for parking in a construction zone. There were temporary paper signs placed in odd places that you hadn't noticed. There were a few orange cones randomly scattered that you hadn't noticed. It was a Sunday. You wouldn't have thought they'd be doing construction on Sunday anyway. Even if you had seen the signs.


Resolve never to go to Manhattan again.

This article by Kathryn A Higgins originally appeared at Thought Catalog on August 10, 2011. You should follow Thought Catalog on Twitter here.

Photo Credit: Jason Pier in DC/Flickr; Nickolay Khazanov / Flickr

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How to park your car in South Carolina:

7:15 AM: Shower. Brush your teeth. Finish getting dressed, grab a TV dinner out of the freezer, feed the dog/cat/ferrets/whatever.

7:30 AM: Run out the door, slamming it behind you.

7:31 AM: Run back inside and frantically search for your keys. Find them in the freezer.

7:31 AM: Lock the door, slam it behind you as you leave.

7:32 AM: Crank the car and look at the house as it warms up. Realize you left the bathroom light on. Take the house key off the key chain and run back inside.

7:33 AM: Run from room to room, turning off all the lights you left on.

7:37 AM: As you pass your computer desk, put your computer to sleep and grab your cell-phone and keys off the keyboard, where you'd left them so you wouldn't leave without them.

7:38 AM: Lock the door behind you as you rush to the car, which is now finished defrosting the windshield.

7:39 AM: Gun it down the driveway and narrowly miss whatever random creature has decided now would be a good time to go sniff the mailbox.

7:45 AM: Get stuck behind some decrepit old geezer in a Buick Century going 10 under the speed limit on a two-lane road with double yellow lines for the next 3 miles.

7:53 AM: Passing lane! Edge towards the middle of the road to pass, only to have to swerve back to avoid being run over by some jerk in a lifted Chevy or Ford pickup truck covered in chrome and riding on massive offroad tires.

7:54 AM: Notice that there's a huge line of people behind you, also being held up by father time and his Buick. Get paranoid that they think YOU'RE the one holding them up. Become frantic to pass.

7:56 AM: Another pass lane! Edge towards the center and take a peek. The coast is clear! GUN IT!

7:58 AM: Explain to the nice police officer that you were merely just trying to pass father time in his Buick and didn't realize the passing lane was only 14 feet long. Also apologize for taking the Lord's name in vain...15 times. In 11 seconds. With the window down. With the cop standing right there.

8:05 AM: Thank the policeman profusely for only giving you a warning and creep ever so slowly off the shoulder and back onto the road, driving 1 mile under the speed limit while the policeman is behind you.

8:09 AM: Policeman turns off to the left and out of sight. GUN IT!

8:10 AM: DEER! Brakes! Swerve! Correct! Re-correct! Re-correct! Re-correct!

8:11 AM: Check pants. No signs of defecation. Resume gunning it.

8:16 AM: Make good time for a few miles until you reach a huge line of cars going 10 under the speed limit, with a Buick Century at the front.

8:32 AM: Finally reach your turn-off. Floor it up the on-ramp and onto the interstate.

8:33 AM: Merge successfully, after much utilization of your turn signal, horn, and middle finger.

8:40 AM: Try and slow your breathing and count to ten slowly before you kill somebody. Yes, we know that turn signals exist. Yes, we know that the left lanes are supposed to be passing lanes. Yes, we know that a Smart Four-Two in the carpool lane makes no fucking sense. No, you may not ram him into the medi-.


8:41 AM: Ok, I think he's still alive, man. I think the oncoming traffic sees hi-



8:42 AM: ...

8:44 AM: ...

8:45 AM: Who knew Smart cars could flip like that?

8:50 AM: See your exit coming up in 500ft. Realize you've been zoning out, daydreaming about flying, flaming, flipping Smart cars for the past 5 minutes and you're still doing 90mph in the carpool lane with your driver's side mirror dangling by a couple wires.

8:50 AM: Car horns blare as you blindly cross 4 lanes of traffic and cut through the grass to make your exit. Cue middle finger again.

8:51 AM: Red light. Realize your driver's side mirror is no longer dangling there.

8:55 AM: Pull into your job's building complex. Start looking for somewhere to parallel park.

8:56 AM: Realize that this is the South. Who the fuck parallel parks in the South?

8:57 AM: Find a free parking spot and pull in.

8:58 AM: Lock your door and sneer at the bright yellow H2 Hummer in the parking space to the right of yours. Make a comment involving smurfs, condoms, and tweezers.

8:59 AM: Punch in for your shift. Thank a higher power that you made it on time.

1:02 PM: Punch out for lunch. Walk out to your car.

1:03 PM: Notice that the side of your car is completely destroyed, with dents, scratches, and yellow paint going down the entire right side.

1:03 PM: Realize you have zero side mirrors left and your left your TV dinner on the computer keyboard at home.