In the end, I decided to stick with the most direct route out of the parking garage, and on Friday morning, took the elevator nearest the bike rack up to the lobby, wished the two security guards a good morning, and walked past them to the loading dock without incident. Maybe, after all this, in that building they don’t care who uses the bike racks.
During my downtown bike parking research, I ended up at the garage where I used to park nearly a decade ago and could hardly believe that one of the attendants was still there! Imagine parking cars for ten years. However, he looked fantastic, which I told him, and he beamed. (Someone in that garage, probably him, once tried to prevent me from parking there because I didn’t work in the building.)
I’ve been introducing myself to the various lobby guards in my own building, most of whom are friendly, but one of whom looked startled and not too happy when I extended my hand. However, one recent night when I left, he was on duty, and I said, “Aaron, right?” and he lit up completely and said, “Wow! Are you a memory champion? Are you going to be in a memory contest?” Smiles all around.
I heard back from the person at the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and it appears that garage operators are free to discriminate against cyclists: even if anyone is welcome to park his or her car in the garage, bike parking can be restricted to tenants of the building.
Friday was also the day of my department’s holiday lunch, at a nice hotel downtown. I was seated by a pleasant-looking young Indian woman and across the table from someone extraordinarily nosy who in about ten minutes determined my relationship status, where my apartment is, who I live here with, what I pay in rent, and my educational background.
The Indian woman, hearing that I have a degree in music, told me that she loves music and took guitar lessons in India for a while. “What kind of music did you want to play?” I asked.
“Heavy metal,” she said.
Surely I had heard wrong, or the term is used in India to mean something else. “Heavy metal? Like—?”
“Metallica. I think Metallica is great.”
The shooting in Newtown also happened that day, which cast a pall over the rest of the day, and in the evening, C. and I had dinner at Esperpento.
Yesterday I packed up a bunch of stuff to return to Lands’ End and LL Bean and took it to a mailing place, a project that took hours. Lately, with all the coming and going of merchandise, it’s starting to look like a hoarder lives in my walk-in closet, and I feel a little breathless with anxiety every time I enter it. The annual SantaCon event had rolled around again, when many people dress up like Santa for a pub crawl. Even though it was rainy and miserably cold, Santa was everywhere, including on Castro St. wearing only red furry shorts and cowboy boots, waving frantically for a cab. One has to admire how no amount of personal discomfort will deter some from being part of a spectacle. I had a pleasant Santa evening of my own, when C. came over for a dinner of salmon burgers and apples.
I’ve been quite upset about the children in Newtown, in tears now and then. I considered sending a condolence card to the family of each child, and imagined writing, “I would do anything to bring your child back. If I could trade my life for hers, I would,” and then pondered if that was true and realized it was. I’m already 50, and they were just six. It’s heartbreaking to think of them going off to school in their brightly colored little-kid clothes and their families never seeing them alive again, never again hearing their voices.