When it comes to parking, there are three options in NYC: paid garage, paid parking meter, or free "alternate side of the street parking."
New York City cleans one half of the streets on some days and the other half on other days. During street cleaning times, people must remove their cars from the side of the street that is being cleaned, but at all other times their cars can be parked there for free. (Unless there are other restrictions like school zones or loading zones etc.)
Street cleaning days and times vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and sometimes from block to block. Sometimes the rules and times even differ from one side of the street to the other (as I discovered the one and only time I was towed!) It's really important to read signs carefully and make sure you understand what the rules are for where you're parking otherwise you could be towed and ticketed (for about $200-ish) AND have a large impossible to remove sticker adhered to your window that says:
Photo from Starts And Fits
-Because the fines plus the cost of the cab ride and the time it takes you to retrieve your car from the impounding lot aren't bad enough. You need a guilt trip too!
Most residents have alternate side of the street parking down to a science. Ideally, what you need to do is move your car someplace else during the street cleaning hours, but be back 30 minutes before street cleaning ends. During those last 30 minutes people park on the "you're not allowed to park here right now" side of the street (which is empty at that time because nobody's supposed to be there) and sit in their cars until the "forbidden" time is over, thus securing a parking space that will not require them to move their car for another 3 days.
If a police car or a street cleaning truck comes by during that time, everybody drives around the block until the threat is gone, then immediately tries to get back into one of those parking spaces. -It's kind of like musical chairs with cars. If no police or street cleaning trucks come along, people sit in their cars and read or chat with other regulars of this routine until that side of the street is safe for parking again.
The reward for sitting in your car for those 3o minutes is well worth it. If you are successful with the timing and parking placement of your car, you'll only have to move your car twice a week. If, however, you fail to secure the right parking space at exactly the right time of day, you may have to move your car 4 or more times that week, and if you miss that "30 minutes before" window you could be driving around in your car for over an hour each time before you find another parking space!
So, why am I explaining this to you? Is it because I am desperate for topics to write about on this final day of NaBloPoMo? No. It's so that when I tell you about my grocery shopping trip, you'll understand why we HAD to get it done in under 30 minutes :)
(-Yes I am going to be posting the day after NaBloPoMo!)