Here is the story: attempting to conserve funds in the economic downturn, a downwardly mobile “middle class” neighbor withdrew her car from its accustomed parking space in a garage a block or so away. In Manhattan, this little bit of economic conservation is worth about $6000 after-tax dollars, annually. It was simple: either the car or the kids’ summer camp (or private school tuition). Fair enough!
The continuing penalty for a move of this magnitude is that every other day during the work- week, she must move her car. It is a tradition called “alternate side of the street parking” – a daily time period when the City may choose to clean the street; but never fails to ticket aggressively. What this means for my neighbor is a reshuffling of her time. As if time were not sufficiently tight, she has now necessarily committed to “special time” with her automobile — whether as a quick trip to a distant grocery, or in quietly grading her undergraduates’ blue books or in simply catching up on unread magazines—while observing the parking rules.
We met yesterday in the elevator, as the entire neighborhood seemed to scurry from their vehicles: the period of penalty had lapsed and there was a communal sigh of relief: Free for the weekend! Free til Tuesday morning! She told me how she’d spent the hour plus and THIS is the heart of the story:
Her high school aged son, spending the week in attendance with his father, across town, had prepared her the night before for the mission: he wanted my neighbor (whose tenured university post required impeccable literary skill) to proof read a term paper on AIDS between 10AM and 1PM, when it was due. My neighbor beamed that her parenting had been successful. Her 17 year old acknowledged that she still had skills useful to him! The problem was that her Wi-Fi had not worked in the car. While her laptop had sufficient charge for use throughout the alternate side of the street period, she’d not been able to download her boy’s e-transmission!
Past her initial Baby Boom techno-panic, she had coolly reassessed the situation. Firing up the laptop, she fished out her first generation i-phone (for some reason able to apprehend transmissions from the ether) and read the AIDS paper via i-phone. Silently thanking her High School typing teacher, she transcribed the entire ten page document, correcting dubious grammar as she went, while sitting in the driver’s seat. She was dashing off to download her flash drive into her home computer to beam the paper back to her son, now cross-town at the private school paid for with fungible resources from alternate side of the street parking!
The point? We Baby Boomers are often ridiculed for inability to navigate today’s techno-environment. But my neighbor’s ingenuity in linking i-phone, e-mail, laptop, Wi-Fi, flash-drive, and alternate side of the street parking rules is simply a single example of our adaptive prowess.
What I’m getting to is that blogging friends a few years younger (pushing the limits of Gen X) have explained to me that the back-and-forth of blogs is singular in forging a community of discourse. But in the month or so that I’ve been blogging, I’ve found that an alternative route also exists: multiple new friends have e-mailed me about blog-posts, leaving the choice to “post” their comments up to me. Perhaps this is a Baby Boom thing, but it feels very genteel: the response to the Blog is personalized, through e-mail, and the communication is therefore private. Its publication is negotiable, therefore, between the two parties within the communication. While perhaps a bit unorthodox from the perspective of Blog hegemony, it attests to a creatively humanizing use of our media. Rock on!
Like making the correct small decisions in daily life (from garage to street), it’s a lovely development to note!
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