Stubborn Horsepower


The fact that parking spaces on Manhattan streets are as rare as empty seats on subway trains during rush hours has been long established. Motorists have been known to search high and low–oftentimes begged, borrowed and killed–for a chance to park within a reasonable distance (maybe 2 or 3 miles) of their destinations. Even within the luxurious dream-within-a-dream realm of the city’s Upper West Side, it doesn’t come easy for those ritzy travelers wishing to exercise their God-given hopes to park their cars.

A slightly startling instance of the trials and palpitations of parking on the streets of the aforementioned Upper West Side appears in the New York Times Metropolitan Diary. After a grueling day of visiting her mother in the hospital, a woman was returning to her Central Park West apartment. As if by magic, she caught sight of a space right in front of her apartment building. Just as she positioned herself and her car for the usually daunting task of parallel parking, she looked in the rear-view mirror and saw, staring back at her, something far too anachronistic for the eyes of 21st century motorists to gaze upon: a horse-and-buggy!

The standard gag when attempting to pull into a parking space in NYC is, that by an amazing coincidence, of another car suddenly appearing with designs on the very same spot. Rather than opportunistic car blocking her path, the woman found this quaint means of equine transport, hot and static on her tail, instead. Naturally, since her car was stopped, she expected the buggy to go around her; this didn’t happen.

Both drivers, that of car and that of carriage, gazed at one another with that look of competitive incredulity we New Yorkers know so well; a look that seems to say “I’ll fight you for it.” To make matters worse, while this gazing refrain was in progress, the horse began taking a gastronomic interest in the woman’s car.

Horror of everlasting horrors, this quite distant ancestor of Seabiscuit and Mister Ed, began licking her car with horse-powered abandon. From trunk to back window, the woman’s car became a delectable morsel for the leisurely and unmovable horse, its saliva creating a film over her children’s college decals.

The woman did what any self-respecting motorist would do:

“I jammed the car into park, opened the car door and screamed at the driver, “What am I supposed to do now?”

The buggy’s driver response was typical to the busy streets of this crowded metropolis:

“It’s a green light, lady. Go!”

That’s all there is, there isn’t any more; at least, not any more that I know about. But I’m sure that the whole affair was peacefully concluded with minimum casualties. After all, there are 8 million stories (or so they say) in the Naked City, and this one, involving urbane motorist, cocky buggy driver and epicurean equine, was just another offering in an eternal list of urban comedy routines.

The Gothamist