The Designated Driver

A few weeks ago I read an article in The Times about the sale of a parking space in Hong Kong for $664,000.  Now, that’s pretty astounding but even here in sleepy Park Slope parking spaces are selling for near $300K.  The reasons for this extravagant price include the closing of parking garages because of their greater value as condominium sites and the confiscation of countless street parking spaces by the Citi Bike program which operates like the anti-Kris Kringle and overnight, stealthily removes parking spots replacing them with bike depots. But the greatest cause of the skyrocketing prices for parking is the influx of money into the neighborhood formerly known as Park Slope. After all, if you’re paying $5 million for your house, what’s another couple hundred thou for a little home for your car.  What we have here is the purest form of the economics of supply and demand.

Now, you may think that you’re detecting a trace of my signature holier-than-thou attitude in this reporting.  Or maybe, even a little envy (the only one of the Seven Deadly Sins for which I don’t have a monthly subscription). But for once, you’d be wrong; ’cause you see, I own a parking space; right here six floors below my apartment. But before you start to figure that I’ll pay for dinner, you should understand that my flushness is not what it seems.  But more on that later because what this essay is really about is the burden it is to always have a place waiting to park my car.

You see, I have a group of friends and almost-friends that I play tennis with.  Sometimes singles, sometimes doubles. But since I alone among us don’t have to worry about finding a place to park afterwards, I do the driving to the courts. That is, I do the picking up and the dropping off. Which means that when I’m playing doubles, my route includes three pickups and three drop offs. The logistics of this is very challenging and forces me to use some brain cells that have been hanging around doing nothing. Walking on cobblestones and crossword puzzles are now redundancies. For this, I’m grateful.  (If I haven’t said it you directly, “Thanks fellas”.)

Before I continue with the benefits of being a chauffeur, let me return to why there’s no way you should be asking me to pick up the tab when we go out.  Even though I have a truly beautiful parking space, it’s not worth much.  You see, because of a quirk in my co-op’s by-laws, if I wanted to sell my parking space, I could only sell it to someone who lives in my building.  Meaning that American capitalism stops at my garage door. About one half of the people in my building already own a spot and about 80% of the remaining occupants don’t have a car.  This means that there are only two or three people who would have any interest in buying my parking spot. Because of this tiny universe of potential buyers, if I wanted to sell my space, I probably could get $9.00, maybe $9.75 for it; if there was a bidding war, possibly $12.00 – $13.00.  (Under the rubric of “Just because it’s good for me doesn’t mean it’s bad for you”, I recently brought up the idea to the co-op of opening up the sale of parking spaces to the world at large—the Board’s reaction was just short of coming after me with torches and pitchforks.) So for now, you’ll have to pay for your own drink.

I think I’m pretty good-natured about doing the driving.  Apparently so much so, that (half) kiddingly, even when my tennis buddies are playing without me, they ask if I’ll drive them to the courts. There’s something very sweet about that, no? But in case you start to think I’ve had a lobotomy, I do have one resentment.  And not a small one (big surprise!). Because of the non-Uber service I provide,  I’m always the first to leave and the last to arrive home. My friends have gotten to sleep in before I come by to pick them up and when we return, they’ve showered, gone grocery shopping and started a stew, all before I’ve even made it to my front door. I try not to think about it but when I do finally get around to cooking dinner—-oh wait, that’s someone else’s life I’ve just entered. Forget it.

There’s one thing about this situation that is completely baffling to me. When I go out with friends, and I’ve done (more than) my share of drinking and it’s time to call it a night, I’m still the “designated driver”.  I can’t put my finger on it but I know that’s something that just doesn’t make any sense.



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2 Responses to “The Designated Driver”

  1. Bob Says:

    So glad you have Pizza Hut as a sponsor. That is wear the money is. But the real money is with pharmaceuticals. Write about hemorrhoids and Pfizer will be driving you and your geriatic tennis buddies around. Better yet, write about hip repacements and knee replacements and you and your physically challenged associates. will be flown firs class to the majors!!

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    That sponsorship is news to me. But it’s perfect…I love Pizza Hut!
    Not so much Preparation H. You make it sound as if I’m having body part replacements just so I’ll have something to write about. That would be, how does he tweet it…oh yes, SAD!

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