I live on a quiet residential side street in upper Manhattan. Out of the window I might see a person walking up the hill or down, the occasional car, sometimes a truck. But not much to make it worthwhile to sit on the window ledge and look out.
Today, I noticed an orange locksmith’s car, with“Locksmith,” two phone numbers, and a Staten Island address painted prominently, stopped in the middle of the street. What attracted my attention was that both the hood and the trunk were open. Was the locksmith having engine trouble?
I then noticed a young man talking to a woman in the driver’s seat of a gray SUV with New York plates parked along the curb in front of the locksmith’s car. She got out of the car and ran up the middle of the street – another odd occurrence.
The young man came over to the locksmith’s car, took out a water bottle, drank, then poured water into something in the engine, the radiator? (I’ve never owned a car, so the internal parts of the engine are a mystery.) He went back to the car, got a larger bottle of water, did the same procedure. He stared at the engine for a while, then went back to the trunk and took out the tools for fixing a flat. (I do know those.)
There was no visible, to me, flat on his car or the SUV, but he walked around to the curb side of the SUV, so that must be it. Eventually, he rolled the flat out in front of the SUV, and it looked so misshapen, I wondered if the tire had been flat for a long time. He got the replacement tire from the back of the SUV and rolled it around to the curb side.
A sedan with New Jersey plates pulled up behind the locksmith’s car, and the woman who’d run up the street came out. She (maybe in her late 40s?) and the young man talked for a while, then he got a pad from his car and, leaning on the hood of his car, which he had closed, he wrote out what was no doubt an invoice. She went back to the sedan, where I could see an elderly man in the passenger seat and a “handicapped” sign hanging from the rear-view mirror. She returned, gave the locksmith cash, he reminded her to take a receipt. He had already put the flat tire into the back of the SUV, and then she took two tote bags, a small cardboard box, and a stroller that had been on the street and put them into the back of the SUV. Then she went back to the sedan and got into the driver’s seat and appeared to put the receipt into a folder that she then placed on the dashboard. After a few minutes, she drove away in the sedan.
The locksmith was now back in his car, got out to retrieve his cellphone which he’d left on the hood, and returned to his car. And sat there for more than five minutes before he too drove off.
So what was happening here? Why did she leave all those bags in the SUV? Why did she run up the street in one direction and return in different car from another direction? I imagined the elderly man was her father, the sedan was his vehicle, and she was picking him up from his apartment to take him, where? to her home in New Jersey? to a new residence for elderly people? This whole scene could be its own writing prompt for another day.