Regress – Almost

The Street Hustle

One of the surest signs of a faltering economy is the rising rate of abandoned cars.  Currently, Dubai, which this time last year was considered the ‘economic superpower of the Middle East’ finds itself mired in a sea of cars left to rot.  The car owners in question are foreign workers who have been laid-off and are having trouble paying the bills.  Their choices are to leave the country within a month or face possible time in a debtor’s prison.

Cars left for scrap are on the rise in Israel and England as well, although not in the US, yet. The lack of this issue maybe because of the deficiency of affordable public transportation in most of the country. Or, perhaps, the American love affair with its automobile runs so deep, we couldn’t possibly let our cars be left to die in some long-term parking lot.  Whatever the cause, the abandoned car in a United States town, city or urban center seems to be a souvenir of 1970’s pictures.

So Sunday, when my pal Jack excitedly told me about an abandoned 2007 Mercury Grand Marquis on the north side of 14th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, I my curiosity was peaked.  “When I saw it two days ago, it was just hit by some other car.  Yesterday on my walk to work, I watched some guy kick the rear right quarter panel and dent it in four places.  Today, someone bashed out the rear windshield, pulled off the left rear tire and threw their garbage in the trunk.  It’s just like the mid 1970’s on the Cross Bronx Expressway,” he enthused.

Energy is transferable and Jack’s doubly so.  I caught his nostalgia wave right there as we chatted waiting for the customers to come into our rated 2 Stars by the Michelin Guide restaurant in far west Chelsea.  It was as if his words bounced off the brown marble service bar and into my head.  I couldn’t wait to get off shift and run over to see the quickly deteriorating Mercury in its new native environment: the formerly gone now back dog shit streets of Manhattan.

While walking down 14th Street a little after midnight, I wasn’t disappointed.  I could see the wreck pushed up onto the curb just a few feet from 8th Ave.  To my surprise, one of the front waiters from my gig was there, chatting away to a phone friend and trying to kick out the right passenger window.  This elicited a giggle from another passer by and myself.  A more entrepreneurial mind could have turned the wreck into a carnival style sideshow, I thought.   

Once up close enough to inspect the wreck, I was wondering why the owner had just left it there for scrap.  The car was well taken care of before becoming an accident victim and then stripped by the locals in an area of Manhattan that supposedly is the stomping grounds of the rich and famous. The rules of the street I suppose; if you leave your ride to the wolves, the asshole in everyone is going to come out.  Then I saw the sign left on the inside of the windshield explaining the car had been in an accident, the owner was waiting for a claims adjuster and was handicapped.

Now, I felt utterly awful.  Jesus, this car wasn’t abandoned it was parked.  I did nothing to the car but ogle it and enjoy the wanton destruction inflicted by my fellow New Yorkers.  However, these people were ripping apart the ride of someone who actually needed it to get around town.

A few feet down at a taco/burrito car,t I saw the same front waiter excitedly gesturing for three guys to follow him to the Mercury.  I assume more kicking and breakage was in store, this time from four people instead of one.

My feelings of voyeurism gone awry aside, maybe the owner of the Mercury knew what he was doing when he left the car there on 14th Street.  Perhaps he was counting on the knuckleheads to come out and destroy his ride.  It has to up the insurance settlement, right?   


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