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So what is a newyorksubalien...

I’m a New York subalien. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly legal – it’s just my loving other half, official alien that he is, comes with a so-called “supermodel” visa that apparently denotes him as one possessing extraordinary abilities (falling asleep within 5 minutes of sitting down in front of the TV, remembering only 2 of the 3 items on a mental shopping list and not knowing where the dishwasher tablets live after 2 years in our apartment are just some of his many talents).

The same visa leaves me extraordinarily unable to possess that most American of entities - a “social” i.e. a Social Security Number. Calling it a “social” makes it sound like the password to some party-filled, fun-packed lifestyle. That’s not far wrong as without these all-important 9 numbers, you pretty much can’t have a lifestyle at all - no bank account, no credit card, not even a driver’s license.

So what does a subalien do? Well, like over sub life forms waiting for evolution to give them a leg up on the ladder of existence, I have plenty of time to observe and these, dear reader, are my observations…..

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bus or busted?

I’m a New York subalien - and a New York bus person!

While others may dazzle visitors with their in-depth knowledge of the hottest nightclubs and the trendiest bars, I can bring an admiring (sympathetic? despairing?) glance to any newcomer’s face by immediately knowing which bus to get from A to B in a pretty large part of this island. This is to a certain extent by default  - until September this year my primary occupation was spending 4-1/2 hours each day taking Male Mini-Me to school and back, a grand distance of around 4 miles as the crow flies each way. 

Unfortunately not many passenger-carrying crows live in New York City and while taking those yellow things that fly around in large numbers are an effective way of reaching point B reasonably directly, spending $80 plus a day on the school run was not within our budget – or within my conscience. 

Owning a car is of course one other obvious solution to transport issues. But it isn’t the idea of driving these streets that has ruled this one out – this subalien in another life happily drove around the video-game world that was downtown Rio de Janeiro at rush-hour, not to mention the l’Arc de Triomphe on a sunny Friday evening in May as all of Paris headed out to the country. 

No, the problem in New York of owning a car is not the driving but the not-driving part of it – that is, where does it rest its weary wheels when it’s not dodging custard pie-coloured counterparts. My nearest garage would love to offer that service for $690 a month which includes tax but does not include the customary “thank you” to the nice man who will then make sure that you don’t have to wait 20 minutes for your car to emerge every time you need it from the depths of the sub-terranean sinkholes they all disappear into.

The alternative is street parking which obviously would save you $700 a month but might mean you have less time to spend it as the stress involved must surely shorten your life expectancy.  This is due to a particular New York ritual you can watch every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in which seemingly sane people pull their cars out of a perfectly good parking space, move across to double park on the other side of the street and then sit there, come rain, sun and snow for hours at a time only (if they are lucky) to move back into their original spot. 

The reason?  Street cleaning – a fascinating and admirable aspect of Manhattan life but which has caused me to witness my only instances of road rage in over two years of living in the city. Failure to take part in this delightful ceremony can result in a nice trip down to the police pound where once again you will need a more official “thank you” in excess of $250 for the nice man in blue to reclaim your car – and this time a 20 minute wait is your best-case scenario.

Who wants to be a bus person now! 
Creative Commons License by Caroline Eagles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.