Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NYC Day One: Hazy and Lost in the Subway

I'm not good with directions. ("Not good," is probably a little weak. "Atrocious" may be a better fit.) To make up for this, I like to have plenty of explicit written instructions. I made Noah (and my coworker Tim) walk me step-by-step through every detail from landing at JFK to getting to his house in Harlem. When we finally landed, after a sleepless, neck wrenching night on JetBlue's redeye, I felt confident that I could get us there.

That confidence dissipated the second we left the airport.

We struggled with buying our AirTrain card, then we struggled with getting our week-long Metro card. (The helpful train helpers weren't so helpful.) And then we headed for the train. We had two choices: Manhattan or Far Rockaway. Noah confirmed over the phone that we were to head toward Manhattan and we on our way.

The travel book I'd been consulting for our pre-trip planning said something like "Gone are the days of dirty subways and neon-lit stations." Seemed like that must have been a typo. We entered the old, dank train car with our heavy luggage and took an even heavier breath.

After we'd been on the train for a few minutes, I started looking for signs that we were actually going the right way. None of the stops were on my little map and I was starting to worry we were headed in the wrong direction. Since my map only showed Manhattan, my mind started telling me we were just getting further and further from where we needed to be. Which, in addition to getting us lost, would also us make us late for the key-pickup that needed to happen before Noah and Allison headed to work. Panic-y, panic-y Spencer, who kept singing The Ramones' "Rockaway Beach" in his head.

After ages, we finally saw a stop we recognized. Hallelujah! We were on the right path. (I didn't know how far JFK was from Manhattan, way on the other side of Queens.) We successfully transferred to the D Train as Noah had instructed and lugged our stuff up the stairs when we made it to Harlem.

Once outside the subway, we quickly learned that we were the whitest people on the planet.

We successfully turned right, went under the bridge, turned right again, went past Jimbo's Famous Hamburgers and to the Riley residence. We were greated by two smiling Rileys and Noah's famous German pancakes.

We did it. We made it from the airport to our first destination without dying. My first fear had been overcome. Our hosts left for work and we passed out on their bed, exhausted. Hello, New York City. You haven't gottent the best of us, yet.

(Come to find out later, we kind of took the wrong route to the Rileys, going all the way to the bottom of Manhattan and then back up again. That's why it was taking so long and why we were on the rundown train. We found out on the return trip that the E Train cars are a lot nicer and the helpful helpers are much helpful-er.)


SusieQ said...

As I was reading this post I couldn't help but think of the time I made a similar trip, but in reverse and BY MYSELF, just to see you during your stop over on your way to The Netherlands. I still think divine intervention is the only thing that got me on the right train out to JFK. Don't worry, you were worth it, but only because I didn't get mugged.

su-tang 3000 said...

I had almost forgotten about my 4 hours in JFK 10 years ago. You have now edged out Ty for best friend honors.