Saturday, May 25, 2013

New York City Workers Behaving Badly

We went to the gentrifying Brooklyn outpost of Williamsburg for lunch, and it looked like a mixture of San Francisco's Mission District and the industrial South of Market area, except with more interesting fashion on the young people and less skillful skateboarders. Horizontal stripes are in fashion, by the way, no matter what your shape might be.

At a sidewalk table at an inexpensive Thai restaurant on the main drag, Bedford Street, we watched the owner drop off groceries to his chefs from an idling luxury SUV. After parking the car elsewhere, he went to work scraping off stickers on the fire hydrant in front of his business. Soon after, an official MTA vehicle parked in the space and the driver went off to eat his lunch at a neighboring restaurant. On the Urban Dictionary, MTA is defined as the following:
1. Metropolitan Transportation Authority 2. Acronym for a corrupt, inefficient, wasteful and dirty organization that runs NYC public transportation and makes tax payer money disappear magically. 3. Antonym for efficient

When I started taking photos of the van, the angry owner charged onto the sidewalk, demanding to know in a threatening manner why I was taking photos of his vehicle. "Because you're parked illegally in front of a fire hydrant," my friend told him. He sputtered, "You know it's illegal for you to take a photo of a city vehicle license plate," which was met with the laughing response, "No, it's not," and he marched angrily away.

There were two parking officers walking on opposite sides of the street issuing tickets and telling people to move their vehicles, but when we told the gentleman above that he should ticket the MTA van, his response was a smile and a shrug. "I wish I could, but..." and he left it at that.

Since the weather was becoming warmer and muggier with each passing minute, we found ourselves at another outdoor seating area in the early evening at the GMT Tavern above on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. The problem this time was a truck from the Department of Environmental Protection, which was idling while spewing diesel fumes into all the diners' faces while one of the employees sat in the shotgun seat and filled out a series of forms. They seemed to be somewhat clueless about the meaning of Environmental Protection, so I went stalking the van with my camera again, which finally prodded them into moving on. An older woman sitting next to us thanked me profusely. "They've been sitting there gassing us for the last 30 minutes. I thought they'd never leave."


Hattie said...

I think after a while people get beaten down.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Hattie: I think you're right. Happily, I was a tourist with some energy.