Some things remain unchanged; all along 126th Street, the chop-shop guys still have their eagle eyes tuned to any dent on the bumpers of passing cars. You have a scratch on the door? Like always, they are eager to help, offering up business cards while properly outfitted in uniforms of the day: surgical gloves, masks, cautious eyes.
Thursday, they would have greeted close to 20,000 cars as they arrived at Citi Field. They are as much a part of the neighborhood as McFadden’s bar, as the elevated subway tracks, the World’s Fair globe a few blocks away. Thursday is also supposed to be sunny all day, not a cloud to be found in the forecast with a high of 58 degrees.
Thursday would have been a perfect day.
Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day.
Thursday, there would have been fans arriving at the parking lots soon after they opened in the morning, mostly so the people could loiter and linger around baseball again, embrace it as it would an old friend (at least in those days when it was still OK to embrace old friends). Thursday was going to be Mets versus Nats, Jacob deGrom versus Stephen Strasburg, 41,313 seats with 41,313 occupants.
Because of the good weather, some would’ve stopped by Lemon Ice King of Corona on 108th Street, a 25-minute walk away from the ballpark, maybe order up the first cherry-vanilla cup of the season. Afterward, there would surely have been turn-away business at the Park Side on Corona Avenue, win or lose, and given the Mets’ remarkable Opening Day aptitude, they almost certainly would’ve been enjoying a happy recap.