PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Before You Were Born

While trying to sort out details of my life back in the 1980s on Murdock Street with Guillermo, Ted, and Huatsu, my mind wanders, as it often does, to a recollection about Dear Old Dad, an accountant who did work for a few decades for the grumpy then-owner of the Syracuse, NY steakhouse restaurant The Scotch and Sirloin.

My father spent zillions (not really) treating us and other friends and family to drinks and dinner at "The Scotch," as did his brother George. But, from what I recall, he was never comped a single meal. That's what we learned by listening to my Dad complain about such things to my mom. 

OK, not a big deal.

But then my father dies, and we come to learn that this lucrative restaurant is in arrears several tens of thousands of dollars to him, which my uncle George – executor of his brother's will – made right via several strongly-worded letters, cc'ing a few lawyers. I thought it was somewhat unseemly to demand money as my uncle did, but later in life I came to understand that this was my father's money. He had done work for the restaurant and hadn't been paid for that work. I also came across form letters that were sent monthly to people who had accounts at the Scotch and hadn't paid on time, which called for additional interest of 1.5%. Per month! In other words, an annual rate of 18%. And this restaurant was notoriously slow to pay my father.

But that's not what I wanted to post about.

Sometime in the 1980s around the holidays, when parking was hard to find at the now-defunct "Shoppingtown Mall" in Dewitt NY, in whose parking lot, detached from the rest of the mall, the Scotch was and still is nestled, my father went to deal with some accounting BS and found that there were no parking spaces. What a hassle! My father had had several heart attacks by this point and wasn't the physical specimen that I am presently: an avid biker, who nevertheless is well overweight due to the consumption of bread products and good beer and so forth.

Keep getting sidetracked.

In the early 1980s "handicapped parking spaces" were brand new. There were no tags for your rearview mirror in Syracuse, nor were there norms around who could use the spots. As I recall, early on it was the honor system.

So my father, who had been circling the vast parking lot of the Shoppingtown Mall for several hours (or maybe mere minutes – sorry, no video footage to review, alas), was encountering some of the same cars over and over, whose drivers circled the lots also without luck. Frustrated, my dad decided to nab a handicapped spot so he could drop off a redweld folder or retrieve "the books" or whatever – a five-minute task.

As luck would have it, he emerges from his car, now parked in a handicapped spot, to lock eyes with the driver of another vehicle, who had been looking for parking for as long as my father had. The driver slowed and stared, and my father, who by today's standards would have easily qualified for a pass based on his heart condition, was forced to fake it. As my Dad told it, he decided to drag a leg from the car into the restaurant.

Let's face it, it takes a really good actor to do believable fake limp, but anyone can drag a perfectly healthy leg for 50 or so yards.

Or maybe it's harder than I thought! I've never really tried.

(Coming soon: memories of Murdock Street)! 

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