Permission granted … to play tennis

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Who knew that playing tennis was an activity that needed to be regulated by permit? In New York, apparently it is. As regular readers would attest, I enjoy my weekly games under the winter weather-proof Bubble at Prospect Park Tennis Centre. Having played there most Monday mornings during the past six months, I didn’t realise that the dismantling of the Bubble would make way for new summertime scaffolding in the form of bureaucracy.

I rang to secure a court in my usual fashion after a break of ten days during which the de-Bubbling had put the courts out of action. To my dismay, I was told that in order to play tennis I had to secure a permit – at the cost of $100, thank you very ta. My Monday tennis cohorts agreed to chip in to share the purchase price, so off I went yesterday and secured my permit.

Nothing can stop me now, I thought, as I called the Tennis Centre, classy new permit complete with not-too-tragic photo in hand. I was wrong.

“You’re not on file,” the receptionist told me impassively. Not only did they not seem to have any record of my winter tennis activity, but whatever system my permit was issued under did not connect with her computer records. “You’ll have to come down to the Centre and show us your pass in order to reserve a court by telephone in future.”

So I did, today, and thankfully a court is available Monday morning. For a country that’s big on telling us they’re small on government, there sure feels like a lot of clunky bureaucracy and unnecessary administration in this city.

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