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Away From Home

Monday, July 25, 2005

New York Postmortem

At long last, here it is -- the much-anticipated Trip to NYC writeup! No apologies for length. Deal with it.

When it comes to getting to New York, there are essentially three choices: airplane ($$$), train ($$$), or bus ($). A round-trip bus ticket is $35, so obviously I chose that. One of my housemates has taken this bus several times and recommended it, so I was feeling pretty good about it. I showed up at the bus office, which turned out to be a standard Chinatown hole-in-the-wall. A bunch of people were milling about, with no real sense of structure, or even an obvious place to present my ticket. I asked another passenger about how the whole thing works, and she was able to explain it a little better, so I was somewhat reassured. The bus turned out to be a standard tour bus; no real surprises there. The trip itself was pretty smooth, too -- after we got out of DC. First imagine driving in DC at 5:00 pm. Then imagine doing it in a bus. It took 45 minutes just to get out of town.

We passed through Delaware, and it was all I could do not to call someone and say "Hi. I'm in Delaware." *hopes someone gets that joke*

About 4.5 hours later, I got my first view of the New York skyline, and gasped. It was dark by then, so everything was lit up. I'm not sure why or how, but somehow, it felt like I was coming home. The bus stopped at Penn Station, right in the middle of Midtown, on 7th Ave. People were everywhere, neon video screens hung from every building, and it was great. Looking up 7th Ave, I could see Times Square, about 7 blocks away. I met up with the others, and we headed for the hotel.

The hotel was in Newark. Fortunately it was by the airport, so the chances of getting shot were significantly diminished. A bit of geography: New York and Newark are right across the river from one another. It's all the same metropolitan area; in fact, both of New York's NFL teams play in New Jersey. I pictured this as being similar to DC and Arlington, which are separate cities, but part of the same metro area, and easy to get to.


Yes, there are trains that go between the two. But while the New York subway is dependable, NJ Transit isn't. I can't begin to calculate the amount of time that we spent waiting on NJ trains over the weekend. Plus it's expensive -- when you figure in the cost of commuting, it would have cost about the same amount overall to just stay at a hotel in Manhattan. Learn from this.

Saturday we did tourist things, like go on a sightseeing tour and see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I'm skimming over that, because Saturday evening was way more exciting -- we saw an actual Broadway show, The Producers.

So was it really all that different than the traveling shows that came to KSU, such as Cats and The Sound of Music? Yes. Everything about this musical was top-notch. The acting was entirely believable (I now believe that much if not most of America's acting talent is located on Broadway, not in Hollywood), and the production values were simply unbelievable. Dozens of set changes, all done in the span of a couple seconds; sets which were worthy of a TV show, and which were all fully functional, including lighted signs. The whole thing was incredible.

The show got finished around 11:00, and we found ourselves in Times Square, with no plans. Let me say that again: We were in Times Square, on a Saturday night, with absolutely no plans. Is there a better place in America to be than in Times Square on a Saturday night? If so, I haven't seen it. The group split up here, with Robbie and I staying there, and the rest going off to the Empire State Building. We walked around, stopping in at various places. Eventually we found ourselves watching the end of the Yankees game in a pro-Yankee bar. The Yanks were losing, so I was happy, but in the interest of not having my legs broken, I kept my mouth shut. Still, it was entertaining.

On Sunday was the Mets game, which represented the only frustrating part of the trip. Because we stayed in Newark, I wasn't going to have time to go back to the hotel before catching the bus back to DC, so I had to carry my garment bag with me (I pack light). Surely the Mets are reasonable people who care about making the fans happy, right?

Surely I am a fool.

To make a long story short, here's what happened:

Gate supervisor: "You can't bring that in here."
Me: *explaining situation*
Gate supervisor: "Go to the group sales office, they'll take care of you there."
. . . (*everyone else goes inside*)
Group sales: "You can't bring that in here."
Me: "The gate supervisor told me that you would take care of it."
Group sales: "We don't do that, have the supervisor come talk to me."
Me: *goes and fetches the supervisor, upsetting him noticeably*
Group sales: "We don't watch people's bags. Ever."
Me: *explaining situation*
Group sales: "Go talk to the front office."
. . .
Front office: "You can't bring that in here."
Me: *explaining situation*
Front office: "We can't watch it for you. It might be a bomb."
Me: "So search it."
Front office: "No, we are zero tolerance. Go get a refund."
. . .
Group sales: "Who said you could get a refund?"
Me: "The front office next door."
Group sales: *looks at me hard, then does it*

So, I didn't get to go in, although everyone else did. Diane offered to change places with me, but by that time I had already gotten the refund (so there were no more unused tickets), and frankly, I didn't want to patronize the Mets at that point anyway. Not a single person I encountered genuinely cared about my situation. For that matter, not a single person even pretended like they cared about making the fans happy. I now officially hate the Mets.

Instead, I went back downtown, and went shopping on Fifth Avenue. Best shopping in the country. I got some new shoes, so I felt somewhat better. Well, my feet didn't -- carrying a 25 pound garment bag for 19 blocks gets pretty tiring (guess I didn't pack light after all). After the game, we all met back up for another hour or so, before I caught the bus home.

All in all, it was a good trip. I want to go back. Soon.


  • *got the joke*
    *resists the urge to say "I told you so" about the hotel*
    *wonders why exactly Scott didn't want his legs broken*
    *hates the Mets too*

    Glad you enjoyed your trip, Scott! *is insanely jealous* I really want to go to a Broadway show. All of the best actors have done or do stage work. It's so much more real than Hollywood!

    I can't wait to see you next month in Baltimore! Maybe you could spend Sunday afternoon with us, since you won't be working? You could catch the BWI shuttle from Greenbelt, since we'll be staying near the airport...details...


    By Blogger Mela, at 7/26/2005 11:10:00 AM  

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