I was strolling down Park Avenue South from Grand Central, admiring the brilliant symbol of spring in the road’s center meridian: the pink and white (cherry?) blossoms that seemed to bud the very second spring officially arrived.
I approached the corner of 32nd and Park. 32nd had the red light. A white SUV, heading east, inched into the crosswalk, and kept going, as if he was going to turn right on red. A few pedestrians shook their heads. A large number of cabs honked their horns.
The SUV, a Mercedes, stopped in the purgatory that is not quite 32nd and not quite Park, and is mostly the crosswalk.
The license plate said ONTARIO.
As I passed, I signaled to the driver, to inform the visitor from the northern hinterlands that we don’t, in fact, go right on red in Gotham. But he was looking the other way, searching for a crack in the downtown Park Ave traffic that, of course, never came.
I left him alone, and continued down Park. His problem.
The SUV and I arrived at the light at 31st at the same time. He was in the right lane, right next to the curb. Five feet away.
I waved. He raised his eyebrows. I signaled to open the window. He did.
He had red hair and a pink face. A hint of beard. 35 or so.
“You can’t go right on red in New York,” I said.
Pause. Scrunched up Canadian face. Pause.
He simply could not comprehend that a liberal outpost such as New York would not allow its motorists this trifling liberty.
“Better it comes from me than the police,” I said.
“Thanks!” he said.
The light turned. The window went up.
He set off. So did I.