Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday on Spring Street

I had to run errands in my car on Sunday, which meant I had to get it out from the garage under the Alexandria Hotel. Six days out of the week the garage entrance on Spring is open, so I just walk down the ramp, say hello to Max and wait for him to get my car. But Sundays are a different story. None of the valets work on Sunday and the gate on Spring is locked. So.

I walked down to 5th Street and the first thing I noticed was groups of men standing around, shoulders huddled together, exchanging money. This is not something I see happening during the week, so I'm not sure why Spring turns into a drug supermarket early Sunday morning. Even though I was a little freaked, no one hassled me or even looked at me, and I slip into the lobby of the Alexandria Hotel.

As usual, there were two guards at the desk and as usual they were very young and did a good job of filling out their uniforms. Last week, I saw a hipster girlie flirting with the guards and doing pretty well with them until she said, "So, open the garage door for me, yo." To quote my friend Damagazelle, "My eyes rolled so far back into my head that they dislodged and slid to the end of my coccyx."

Anyway, I said good-morning and asked the guards to open the gate to the garage. They were nice and polite, as always, but they're not valets and they won't actually get the car for you. I walked onto a waiting elevator and punched the button for the basement. The doors slid open onto a narrow hallway with dirty tile floors and holes punched into the plaster walls. I walked through and into the garage, praying that my car was parked on the first basement level. The first level is pretty dark and pretty dank, but getting my car out of the first level is a straightforward job--just pull out and drive it up the ramp.

But of course, my car wasn't parked on the first level.

Oh shit, the elevator.

Not the elevator I'd just gotten out of. This was a car elevator, painted red, all metal with no door. To run it you have to hold two buttons at the same time. When you do the elevator lurches, then slowly and loudly slides down to the second basement level.

The second basement level makes the first look like paradise. It's dark, there are puddles and chunks of plaster in piles on the floor and I'm the only person down there--well, me and the guy who is hidden under a car, waiting to kill me (har har).

I found my car and backed it into the elevator--and since the elevator is narrow and I drive a 1985 Mercedes Benz with a body that's 17 feet long, this took me a few minutes. Then I pressed the two buttons again and made sure I didn't overshoot the floor, and then I pulled out of the elevator, up the ramp, paused a moment to let a man pushing a shopping cart go past, waved to the guard and finally pulled out onto Spring Street.

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