It was a warm Spring Friday afternoon in 2018. I had just finished my shift in Midtown Manhattan and was happily headed home. It was really jammed up, a pack of cars slowly heading West on 42nd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It was rush hour, but doesn’t it ALWAYS feel like rush hour in Manhattan?
I was getting frustrated by the usual incompetence of the drivers all around me and anxious to get home to enjoy a cold beer that was waiting for me in my refrigerator. Since the traffic in front of me wasn’t moving (and it should have been), I decided to switch lanes, squeeze through and try to navigate around the traffic mess I was trapped in.
As I performed my “thread the needle” lane change maneuver to squeeze through the impossible traffic, I realized too late that there wasn’t enough clearance on my left side to clear the car I was passing. I felt a slight tug as I passed the white Ford Taurus with smoke colored windows on my left. Traffic had come to a complete stop and nobody was moving.
Just then, a very angry man wearing a uniform jumped out of the white Ford Taurus and ran up to me, flashing a badge and screaming gibberish. Well, not only was traffic stopped, but my heart stopped, too. I had just side swiped a cop in mid-town Manhattan! There goes my license and my TLC, I thought to myself.
We made a right onto Sixth Avenue and pulled over to the left side of the street, to avoid the heavy bus traffic. As I was exchanging information with Mr. Angry, I soon realized he wasn’t a cop at all, but a security guard for Kings County Community College. One level above mall cop, I thought.
This guy thought he was a cop and he took himself very seriously. When the real cops showed up, this Barney Fife wannabe was chatting it up with New York City’s Finest. How pathetic, I mused.
When I looked at my left rear bumper and Mr. Angry’s right rear bumper, I couldn’t see any damage. I took out a cloth and wiped his bumper and could not tell there had been damage. This infuriated the other driver, because he wanted to turn this little incident into front page news, so he could be on the evening news. No such luck. The cops agreed there was no damage to either vehicle and therefore no further action was necessary. I was relieved.
The lesson I learned from this very stressful experience was that I’ll save my tight squeezes for my girlfriend; not the crazy city streets of Manhattan!