I was on my way to my Saturday morning Mermaid's Garden shift, stopped for a red light at the intersection of Sterling and Flatbush drinking a coffee, when all of a sudden my coffee was all over me and the steering wheel. I looked in my rearview mirror, and a youngish woman in a leopard-print jacket was already getting out of her Jeep Liberty. As I got out, another woman rushed over from the sidewalk, over the dirty glaciers of two months of hardened plowed snow.

"She didn't mean to do it!" the woman yelled from the sidewalk. "She just slid right down that ice on the incline."

Almost on cue, I slipped on the ice as I got out of my car and fell.

The woman who rear-ended me apologized profusely, and we pulled over to the side of the road in front of a hydrant and called the precinct. As I was talking to dispatch, a van rear-ended a service car in the exact same spot. Both drivers got out, inspected their respective bumpers, and made a handshake deal to go their respective ways when they found no significant damage.

Then another car rear-ended another, in the exact same spot. They pulled off to the other side of the road, and we told them the police were on their way.

Then another car slid into a parked car. We looked at the driver, who refused to make eye contact. He pulled backward then skidded away.

At this point, the parking meter attendant came walking by. She was about to give us a ticket for parking in front of a meter, but once she saw the situation she said she'd stick around with us until the cops arrived. Sensing that wasn't going to happen for awhile and seeing more of the same accidents looming, we got out our shovels from our respective trunks and started pounding on the ice while taking shifts telling cars to slow coming down the incline. This was my view:



While waiting, the group of us spent a little less than an hour preventing another accident and trying in vain to pick away the worst of the problem ice (to be honest, though, our shovels were like pea shooters in a hurricane). After the attending cops arrived, took all of our information, and filed a report, we hesitantly went on our way. I think we all wanted to stay, knowing there would be more accidents here. But then the line of sunshine that covered the north sidewalk inched its way into the street, and I think we all felt a certain relief knowing it's supposed to reach 40 degrees today and for the next few sunny days. Spring is almost here, you nasty New York City streets.


AuthorJohn Proctor