Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Adventure in Stupidity, Or Yet Another Lesson Learned the Hard Way

NEW YORK—Yesterday, Mother Nature dumped buckets of snow over the East Coast. A perfect time to stay in at home and avoid the treacherous roadways, right? Well, that's not what I did. Not at all.

I had tickets to a dance performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last night that I had paid for about three months in advance, so, despite warnings of the impending snowstorm worsening during the evening, I said to myself, you know, I've driven through snowstorms before. I might as well make the $18 I paid for the ticket stand up and not go to waste.

Thus, I left my house at around noon to catch a 12:29 p.m. NJ Transit train in New Brunswick to get to New York. The cold front was only producing flurries in the area at the time, and nothing was accumulating on the ground, so I decided to park in an empty spot on the street (you don't have to feed meters in New Brunswick during weekends).

I spent my afternoon and evening first in Astoria, hanging out with friends, and then in Brooklyn for this dance performance. By the time a friend and I got to Brooklyn, the blizzard had already intensified; still, it wasn't enough to faze me when I thought about the ride home.

But when I returned to New Brunswick at about 11 p.m. and saw my car not at its spot on the street—well, then I was fazed. You can guess what happened to the car.

My dad ended up having to drive out in the storm and pick me up. And while he was gracious about the whole unfortunate affair, my mom was decidedly not. I was still hearing complaints from her about the situation this morning—not just about how I shouldn't have parked my car on the street, but how I shouldn't have even gone out to New York in the first place. (The fact that I paid only $18 for the ticket, she felt, strengthened her case. "That's nothing," she kept saying—funny coming from Mrs. Extreme Frugality.)

Here's the one thing I can, with admittedly agonizing difficulty, tell myself about the incident: It was, in hindsight, disastrously shortsighted of me to park on the street, even when things weren't too bad weather-wise, knowing that the snowstorm was bound to worsen by the time I returned home. I certainly should have taken that into account and parked in some enclosed lot. (Nevertheless, if New Brunswick was so adamant about ridding Somerset St. of cars, why was I still seeing three cars on the right side of the street parked in metered spots at 11 p.m.?) Or, at the very least, I probably should have just found a place to crash overnight (I had to come in to work today; in the world of journalism, at least, there are no snow days).

But what of my mother's suggestion, that I should not have even gone to the show in the first place? Even though I had planned on this months in advance? Does the fact that the ticket cost $18 make a difference?

What else should I have done/not done in order make this situation much less fucked than it already is? I'm open to suggestions/advice, to try to learn from this rather embarrassing experience.

P.S. The dance performance at BAM presented a fascinating representation, strictly via choreographed body movement, of issues of religion, family and cultural identity. It was worth the slushy, snowy trek, I think. Not that my mother would care about that.


Brittany said...

Ouch. So how does this work -- do they tow all the cars on the street in NJ any time it starts snowing so they don't get stuck?
My suggestion: Sell the car and move to the city! Brooklyn will be much closer, and you never have to worry about your subway car being towed :)

Kenji Fujishima said...

I mean, I honestly did not see a sign on the street on which I parked saying I'm prohibited from parking there during snow emergencies. I assumed that if there was no sign, my car would remain untouched, snow or no snow. Apparently not.

And yet, as I said in my post, there were still two or three cars parked in metered spots on the other side of the street even during a time when supposedly no cars were allowed to park on that street. If I get a parking ticket out of this, I'm wondering if I should fight it in part for that reason...

But yeah, I think you're right. As much as my mother will probably strongly advise against it (but of course), I think it's time for me to move.

Anonymous said...

You have the right take on it. You should have heeded the warnings of the impending snowstorm and not parked on the street. But, put things in perspective: you made a small mistake--no one was hurt or worse and in the future you will not do the same thing. If this is the worst mistake you make in your life, you're doing pretty well I would say. Just admit to your mother that you were wrong and she needs to move on. Also, I would not bother fighting this in court, not worth the time and effort.

Kenji Fujishima said...


Now that apparently a New Brunswick cop told my mother, when she picked up the towed car today, that yes, apparently New Brunswick has the right to tow cars away regardless of whether or not there's a sign that prohibits you from parking during snow emergencies——well, it still feels like bullshit, but I guess there's nothing I can do about it. Thanks, New Brunswick, for being consistent like that.

Also: there's a deeper issue that this situation dredged up that I didn't really get into in this post, mostly because I'm tired of posting the kind of emo shit that I used to do every once in a while. But I might as well mention it now, because it's part of the reason why I posted this in the first place: basically, I realized——thanks to complaints my mom only now decided to direct to me after this situation arose——that I'm honestly getting tired of the whole living-at-home, living-under-my-parents'-implied-rules arrangement and am pretty much ready to finally try to strike out on my own...whether or not my mother likes it or not.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, to continue your growth its time to think of getting your own place. But I would not rush. Figure out how much you need to spend to get your own place and take that money each month from your salary and salt it awsy in an interest bearing account (it will be low interest, LOL). Meanwhile keep living free at home and say nothing. In 6 mos or so you will have accumlated some cash and will be more able to pay rent, security and buy some furniture for your new place and then just DO IT!

Kenji Fujishima said...

Meanwhile keep living free at home and say nothing.

With my parents, easier said than done, my friend; easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

I meant save money each month and don't talk about it. It's your salary right, you don't have to report what you do with it,or how you save, hopefully.

Kenji Fujishima said...

Thankfully no. In that, I've earned trust (rightly or wrongly) with my parents over the years.