top of page


Ronie knew she’d get through Christmas weekend but wasn’t looking forward to it.   Oh, the tips would be welcome. Most drivers tip even if it’s only a buck or two to round up to the bill they’ve handed her.  But the number of inebriated customers and their level of intoxication would be high, meaning more hassle and more time in the cold. With wind chill bringing the temperature down to 25 below, Ronie’s every step outside to ensure cars parked in their allotted spaces required steely determination. She’d much rather remain hunkered down in her glass four by four booth outfitted with a space heater, stoking her inner chimney with a Chesterfield.  And although Ronie liked saying ‘Merry Christmas’—she didn’t feel anything special about the day, or even the whole season. She felt bad about that.  She thought she should feel something, some joy or excitement, some connectedness.  Instead, she felt only an obligation to visit her dad in memory care, even though he no longer recognized her, and to feed her neighbor’s cats while they were in Miami.   Over the last few days, she found herself muttering, “After all, I am human.” 

A tall couple walked briskly towards Ronie, their arms linked, laughing and hugging as they crossed the street. The woman’s long silver mink coat, matching gloves and hat were a striking contrast to her companion’s black top coat and crisp English bowler hat.   It wasn’t until they were entering her lot that Ronie recognized them as the owners of the silver Jaguar SUV.  She also recognized him as intoxicated.  

Uh oh, here we go, Ronie thought.  

Sure enough, in one seamless move, Ronie watched as Mr. Bowler backed his Jag out, clipped the passenger side view mirror of the beige Ford Taurus parked next to him, then shifted into Drive as he accelerated toward the exit. Inhaling one last drag on her cigarette, Ronie stepped out of her booth and into his path.  She motioned for him to roll down his window, calling out, “Sir, you hit the Taurus parked on your left and busted the side view mirror.”  

Bowler’s response was a loud, long honk of his horn. Ronie took out her cell phone and began moving around the Jaguar, snapping photos, first of his license plate, then the driver side of the hood, where a scrape through the gleaming silver was clearly visible.  When she came up to the driver’s door, Mr. Bowler rolled down his window and said, “Hey, look, Mister, that American piece of junk was parked over the line, violating my space. And that mirror was already broken when I pulled in.  I’m not responsible.”   He finished with a loud burp. 

Ronie usually liked the confusion her mannish looks created: her prominent jawline, cropped hair and horn-rimmed glasses gave her an advantage in the sexist world of parking lot attending. But now, with Bowler’s mental state already compromised, correcting him on her gender would only prolong the conversation and thus her time in the cold.

Ronie said, “You can sort out fault with the Taurus driver, and I’ll get photos of where it’s parked in a moment.  But right now, sir, you need to give me your name and address. And I suggest either your wife drive or I’ll call you a cab.  With all due respect, sir, I don’t think you should be behind the wheel.”


Bowler said, “If anyone cared what you think, you wouldn’t be parking cars. My wife’s not going to drive me anywhere. Now if you step back from my car to let me get out, I’ll give you my lawyer’s card and we can walk over to that sedan and together look at the rust on that mirror’s mounting brackets.” 

Ronie wasn’t going to argue. She knew what she saw and heard, and would testify to it if necessary. But she stepped back from the Jag and waited for Bowler to get out.  Instead, the Jag sped out of the lot and made a sharp right turn down 7th.  Ronie couldn’t help admiring the zero to 60 ease with which it disappeared. 

Feeling her toes throb, Ronie was about to return to her booth when she remembered Bowler’s comment about rust. But aren’t mounting brackets and mirror assemblies all plastic these days? Was the side view mirror already broken off?  She had heard the clanging of its fall, but maybe Bowler had just severed it. Carefully stepping around the shattered glass and mirror encasement, Ronie looked closely at the mounting bracket. A clean, seared break in the plastic molding. No rust even possible. Her iPhone flash illuminating the night’s darkness, Ronie felt good snapping more photos, although she couldn’t think what for. But I’m not paid to think, she thought defiantly. 


As she stepped back to get a photo encompassing the Jag’s skid marks, Ronie stumbled on something doughy.  She reached down and scooped up a silky white glove.   She admired its fine outer stitching and supple feel. She put it on and felt the warm fur of its lining.  She thought how impotent winter would be with this glove, unable to send its chill through her fingers and into her bones. She imagined walking down 7th with its bejeweled Christmas display cases, her gloved hand held firmly by a tall, distinguished gentleman.   She could even imagine his holding the door for her to his Porsche or maybe just an Audi and their cozy, warm ride as they passed carolers singing “Good King Wenceslaus” with its line, ‘Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel.’ For the first time in weeks, Ronie smiled. Suddenly, she felt a kind of kinship with Mrs. Bowler, and through her to something else. 

She walked back to her booth whose blast of warm air enveloped her. Ronie carefully placed the glove in the ‘Lost and Found’ box. She unscrewed the top to her coffee thermos and poured out the steaming white, milky brew. Through the mud-splattered window of her booth, she glanced up at the stars hanging heavy in the December sky, then down at her coffee.

Taking a first sip, Ronie thought she tasted eggnog.

bottom of page