Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hoarder Car

There's a car parked near the shell of St. Vincent's Hospital that I often pass and stop to gaze upon. It is a wonder.



Battered and once-white, tagged by graffitists, the car is packed to the gills with newspapers, coffee cups, Coke bottles, and other assorted flotsam.

The backseat overflows. The passenger seat is crammed.



The dashboard is thick with newspaper stuffing. Only the driver's seat is empty, just enough space for the driver to climb inside and carefully move the vehicle from one spot to another, to avoid the sweeping machine and the ticket makers.



I've seen the Hoarder Car, as I think of it, many times, but I have never seen the driver. I imagine a man, though it could be a woman, heavyset and wildly bearded. I see him living alone in one of the townhouses along W. 12th or 13th Street, where he has dwelled since birth.

I imagine that the posh new neighbors complain about the peeling paint on his front door, and the rusted wrought-iron fence, and the unkempt garden. They hold block association meetings about the man, discussing ways to condemn his property and resign him to a home. Some neighbors stand up to say, "I've offered to pay for repairs and upkeep myself, but Old Bill won't let my contractors near the place."

"Old Bill," they call him, though he's always gone by William. When they see him emerge in the mornings to move his junk-filled car, their blood boils. One woman, a stay-at-home mom, makes it her business to stand sentinel by her window, always watching as Old Bill comes and goes. She complains to her nanny (her husband is always away in China making deals in oil futures) and whips herself into a raging frenzy that only half a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé can calm.

"One of these days," she says to the nanny, "Old Bill's going to be history."

19 comments:

the Publishers said...

There's a similar hoarder car that appears on our block in Queens periodically. Packed to the gills, there's just enough space behind the wheel get the driver to the next parking spot. I always instinctively avert my eyes when I pass the car, like you look at the ceiling when someone uses the urinal next you.

Little Earthquake said...

Although this post is a work of fiction, you've hit on an interesting point. Women are definitely more apt to perceive something unpalatable but benign as a threat (especially if they have children). Most men would shrug and laugh off this guy and his car, unless there there were an obvious, imminent threat to their or their family's safety. A wife and mother can always shoot the arrow and paint the bullseye around it and claim it's for her family's safety, and everybody will believe her.

ShatteredMonocle said...

LOL...more of this plz!!!

Marty Wombacher said...

I see a new reality show in the making, "Hoarder Cars."

Anonymous said...

This car is parked just a few steps away from Rays Pizza and is always a sight to behold. I wonder if the city might one day accidentally think its abandoned and tow it.....

Anonymous said...

he lives on 16th st between 7th and 8th. and he moves his car regularly! i always make sure to wave hello. its a colorful neighborhood of characters.

laura said...

does he really live on 16th st? or is that fiction too? youll be surprised how many people have cars like this (the interior). & they look normal, dress well. have good jobs, & its an expensive car.

John M said...

To build on what Marty said, maybe 'Hoarder Cars' features a car full of stuff from Obscura that they found in abandoned storage spaces. A guy can dream.

Jeremiah Moss said...

you've seen the Car Hoarder in real life? thank god some characters still exist in the city.

Anonymous said...

Real New York, not a a state of mind.

Mary said...

Hey, speak for yourself, Little Earthquakes. Not all women are constantly wailing "Won't somebody please think of the children!" (a la Mrs. Lovejoy (from the Simpsons, duh.))

Anonymous said...

@the Publishers: maybe we live on the same block? Is it that rusting early-70s Chevy Nova?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else remember the hoarder car that used to park on 4th St. between 1st and A? That hoarder car had everything in plastic bags, some hanging from the ceiling and some stacked in the back.

IDLE RICHARD said...

there's a hoarder car on grand street, across from one of the oldest churches (i forget its name, sorry), and it's an eyesore. it's disgusting. unlike the buildings, stores, people that might give this city its character, this car is just a hunk of garbage with garbage in it.

Grand St. said...

That's St. Mary's, Richard, dating from the 1830s.
Can't speak to the car's provenance.

Anonymous said...

We have 2 (a car and a van) on East 9th street between C and D. Isn't it great that they can still exist in the city.

Anonymous said...

There's a hoarder minivan that is usually parked on 15th Street btwn 6th and 7th Aves. It has "no fracking" and "Occupy" bumper stickers as well as pamphlets taped to the outside of the vehicle. I was lucky once to have actually seen the owner move the car. It is a woman who looks a lot like Elizabeth Warren (but it is not actually Elizabeth Warren).

Anonymous said...

Yes, he really does live on 16th st. I finally saw him one day and he seemed to be some sort of maintenance person - he was wearing blue work clothes and had a large ring of keys on his belt. The hoarder car is such a bizarre phenomenon!

maddogmike said...

honestly, this was ingeniously written
Jeremiah - I have been a fan now for years, and this just goes over the top - thank you for making my day