“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
— Yogi Berra
Okay, so just in case you think I’m complaining…I am.
My question is this. How can you function in a society where nothing works? Let me give you an example. A few favorite subjects immediately come to mind.
First, let’s review the danger in crossing the street and the traffic in SoHo — and what it’s like to try and do something about it.
Starting with the dangerous traffic situation in SoHo, especially in the streets around the Holland Tunnel. Traffic is worst crossing from Delancey coming from the Wiliamsburg Bridge and coming down across Broome Street and from the Manhattan Bridge heading across Canal Street.
There are not enough Traffic Agents to protect pedestrians from frustrated drivers who want to get to New Jersey. And, NO agents at all giving out tickets. The worst thing that can happen to a motorist, no matter what they do is to be directed off one of the lines and head away, flying into the mist and no-man’s-land of lower Manhattan with no line to be part of.
This, of course, means that there is no incentive to avoid hitting a pedestrian. If a driver hits you trying to cross the street, the responsibility is on you to get help. Any help. So, when some guy hit me while crossing in the crosswalk, here’s how it played out.
First of all, the driver started complaining. He was worried that I might report the incident. Forget that my back hurt, I’d dropped all of my groceries and I was pissed off that this Jeep had hit me when I, as a pedestrian, had the light. Forget that I wasn’t in a car. So, now I had to listen to him bitch at ME. He actually was complaining that he’d just beat cancer.
I pointed out that I hadn’t yet beat cancer, and that he had no registration or insurance for his car, had no license plate, and had just rammed me. The Traffic Agents paid no attention but one guy in his car advised me to get the guy’s information. I was told to go to the 1st Precinct and make a report.
As I stood there in pain, after collecting my groceries the frankfurter guy just shook his head at the scene. He’d seen it all before. Later he told me I was lucky the guy didn’t attack me for forcing him off the line and missing his queue into the tunnel. He’d seen that happen a couple of times.
By now, there were three lines of gridlock snaking around the corner from 6th Avenue into Watts Street with no one moving. So, I just walked away, with no help apparently coming, no tickets being written, no police in sight. If I called the police I’d probably be attacked for fucking up the line.
The next day I made a report at the 1st Precinct and headed over to CityMD for a consultation. I was advised to have an MRI. My back bothered me but I wasn’t going to use a cane to increase my benefits. Having blood/bone cancer, however, is a dicey situation. According to one lawyer, Shelly Silver had made it virtually impossible to sue unless you were in a full body cast. Now Shelly’s dead after having been imprisoned for corruption and I was left trying to figure out what my future held.
No attorney wanted to handle this case on contingency as a result of the fact that I had obviously not been maimed or had tire marks on my chest. Any case would require some legal work. And, most attorneys now view this kind of case without a retainer much like Dracula fears the light.
So, after filing a police report and visiting a doctor I spoke to a lawyer and obligated myself to a retainer. Even though the driver had no insurance card, no registration and no license plates, the police were not excited. They didn’t see this as a HIt & Run. It was more like a Smack and Skip. Numerous letters to the 1st Precinct got nowhere. I even sent letters to the Community Board. No response.
But, there was some movement. My retained lawyer got a response. From the City.
After having been a member of Community Board #2 and having spent meeting upon meeting with D.O.T. which promised changes so residents wouldn’t get hit, I realized they were all full of shit. Although, at CB2 you can’t really say that. So, in filing a lawsuit I listed the City for creating an unsafe situation with no enforcement. They’d been promising changes for twenty years. The Traffic and Transportation Committee are all smiles when the City sends their polite twenty-year olds from the City. Veddy, veddy!
Suing the City resulted in what’s called a 50H hearing. At $650 an hour I had to sit in front of a lawyer that apparently COULD afford to deal with this issue. First, I was told that the hearing could not be recorded, that it was preliminary (meaning she got to see what my cards were and this didn’t really count). Then, I was told me that SHE got to ask questions and that I didn’t. You know, democratic-like?
So, by now, I’d only racked up a few thousand in legal fees. The police were going to do nothing. I still had no idea who owned the car. And, the driver, who claimed to be local, had given me phony phone numbers before he skipped.
Finally, my attorney, who was doing me a favor since Shelly Silver had fixed things for everyone, kept the cost down to under $5,000. And, he filed a summons for me.
The result was this — some attorney responded for the Skipper and it flatly stated that no accident had ever happened. No one had hit me. There never was a guy whose license I photocopied. I never had any damage and my cancer was a ruse. In fact, this was all my fault. Wasn’t I the criminal here?
I had to withdraw my case against the City since they were not a fault for the pedestrians being hit and killed in lower Manhattan. And, since I still was able to walk, what was I complaining about?
Keep in mind folks that in People v. Torres, the D.A. is required to prosecute this, “Right of Way Law” which makes it a misdemeanor for a driver, while failing to exercise due care, to make contact with a pedestrian or bicyclist who has the right of way and thereby cause physical injury.
I withdrew my case against the driver because I was getting no help from anyone. Apparently, I had never been there and who was I going to get to testify, the frankfurter guy? Imagine his fealty to me when he received a subpoena (if I could even afford to send him one) and had to testify about his legal status and then worry about retaliation for selling old hot dogs. HE would probably attack me every time I passed his cart.
He’d probably fear being attacked by a gangster from New Jersey. Or, maybe the guy who hit me. Unless the line was still moving. Who knows who would be blamed the next time someone was killed by a car.
Probably, me because I didn’t write about it.
Stay tuned for “Up & Away,” a novel about prison life — “Murder in SoHo” — and “Bonfires in the Hamptons,” the story of Justice at the hands of corrupt Hamptons politicians — all based upon true stories. Coming this summer. They’ll make your hair stand up if you believe in the 1st Amendment.