Sunday, June 11, 2017

The New York Things

It's late.

Three parts exhausted, three parts elated, all parts in New York. The clock is ticking closer to midnight and I have an early morning presentation.

I grab a cab and tell him where I want to go.

New York at night, the city in June, midnight and the traffic is, as usual, terrible. We are on the highway for a few minutes and I'm throwing myself into my music. So it was that it took me a minute to start when I felt the taxi cab jump the curb.

I sit up.

The driver puts his hand across the front seat and turns around to look at me.

I'm waiting for him to say something to me, instead he speaks more to the car, to the traffic, to New York city.

"The traffic is so bad."

And then he puts the taxi into reverse and starts driving backwards up the exit ramp.

Fun. I figure if New York is going to make a serious play to kill me, this will be that play.

Our ride backwards lasts almost all of five minutes and somehow, given how busy it can be, we didn't run into another car or anyone trying to exit onto the highway. The car zipped about on side streets, little back roads, down alleys and over bridges until we finally join up with the FDR and head towards downtown.

The music is loud again, and despite myself, I admire the east river and the sparkling lights from Brooklyn and Queens. It's warm, even though it's midnight, its vaguely quiet on the highway, the calm before the storm. We break into Manhattan around 33rd street, heading over to 42nd. I've done this trip enough times that I'm not thinking to much about the fact that we cross Lexington and seem to be going really far west. I trust my driver and think perhaps I was just confused about which side of the city my hotel was on.

From quiet to the dense, cluttered, peopled streets of New York city on a Friday night. On the corner of 41st and Broadway a Puerto Rican group is playing music and people are dancing on the sidewalk spilling into the streets. Couples walking hands in hand, as the hucksters push street meats and sweets to the growing throng, and the cab pushes through it all, past it.

"Welcome to New York."

"Yeah, it's not my first time."

"Yeah, when I was living back overseas. I came to visit New York. And I said to myself, this is where I want to live. I want to live in New York. It was my goal, you know, my dream. Yeah, I really wanted to live in New York."

"Not me."

"Yeah, now I know. I didn't know. But now I know. It's not so great. It was better for a visit. At least you are only visiting."

He drops me at my hotel and I head to check-in. "Thanks for that trick on the highway, we would have been there all night."

"Yeah."

The bell hop hears me and asks "What he pull?"

"Backwards up the ramp when we hit traffic coming in from the airport."

"That's pretty good."

"Yeah."

"That's how we do it in New York."

Everyone seems to be full of New York tonight, amused by New York tonight.

"Ah, honey, you just checking in?"

It's almost midnight and an older couple gets into the elevator with me.

"Yes, that's right."

"Well, it's not so bad, you can relax now, honey. You'll like New York."

"I just got in from Toronto and I have a conference at 9 a.m. tomorrow."

"Oh, I-" His wife grabs him and drags him away, chastising him under her breath for flirting with me. I get my papers out to get checked in.

"Are you sure you have a reservation?"

I show the reservation again.

"You're at the wrong hotel."

Of course I am.

"We have two on 42nd in New York. It happens. It's the city."

The city. I get back downstairs, I get the bell hop to call me another cab and I hop in.

"Where you headed?"

"My driver took me to the wrong hotel. I thought it was funny, I need to be on the east side."

The driver chuckles.

"Picked you up at LaGuardia, did he?"

"Oh, yeah, why?"

"Yeah, cause from LaGuardia we get the meter it's not flat. So he takes you over to the west side he makes more money on the drive. Happens all the time, it's a New York thing."



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