New York, New York (Story #1 To Accompany “Pictures Day 12”)

Yesterday I posted Day Twelve of my “New York, New York” picture travelogue and hinted at a couple of stories that went along with that part of the day.

Story The First

The two and a half hour long cruise around Manhattan had taken a bit longer than that, and by the time the ship docked and we all were able to disembark and fight our way through the souvenir stands to the street, it was just after 5:00 PM.

Rush hour.

We’re at the Circle Line Sightseeing Tour docks on the Hudson River. Along the Hudson runs 12th Avenue. 12th Avenue is packed with cabs – all full of people and flying by. None of them are available, and it’s soon very obvious that none of them will be. All of the cabs in New York will be picking up people in front of all of the office buildings, which are not down on 12th Avenue next to the docks.

We decide to head inland into Manhattan on 42nd Street. How far can it be before we get to where the cabs are plentiful? (And the waters are cool and the fields green, and all of the children play with the butterflies all the live-long day…)

Before we can cross 12th Avenue, we’re approached by someone who has a limo service. Do we need a ride? Are we looking to go somewhere? Maybe they can offer us their services?

It’s tempting. We tell them we have to get to CitiField for the Mets game, which is scheduled to start in less than two hours.

Of course he can do that! It will be a tight fit on time, but if we leave now he can get us there for about $80, which he says is less than a cab will cost.

Red flag #1 – $80? Wait, isn’t CitiField over next to LaGuardia Airport, which is only something like half as far away as JFK International? We came in from JFK yesterday and it wasn’t even close to $80, so how can a trip of maybe half that amount cost more?

Well, we’re really tired, and it’s hotter than hell, and about as muggy as we’ve ever seen (LA doesn’t have this water-filled air thing going on) and we are getting a bit short on time, so…maybe?

We’re wavering. He’ll do us a favor. $60 cash in advance and we’ll be on our way.

Red flag #2 – we’re dickering on the price now? This isn’t Marrakesh and we’re not buying souvenirs in the market.

There’s a problem. I don’t think that I’ve got $60 cash left. They’ll take credit cards, just like the cabs do, right?

Oh, no, it’s cash only. But, to help us out, he’ll take us to an ATM first so that we can get the cash we need!

Red flag #3 and we’re outta here!

Have I mentioned that I had this weird love/hate fascination/terror of New York City in my head before going there? Baseless, illogical, but there nonetheless. So how do I overcome shit like this in my head when faced with it? I do some research. I read. I plan ahead. I look for advice and try to get my head smart enough to overrule anything my gut might be freaking out over.

In that research process, one thing that had stood out was the whole New York City taxi thing. I had read several articles on the do’s and don’ts of getting around New York by various means, including taxi, subway, car, on foot, etc. One thing every single article had mentioned was the bandit cab issue. One thing every single article had mentioned was to use caution with the bandit cabs. And one thing every single article had mentioned as a really glaring sign that you were treading on thin ice was the line about how they would take you to an ATM to get the cash you needed to use them.

We bailed and crossed 12th Avenue, heading east away from the Hudson River.

And slightly uphill. In +90°F temps with humidity in the 90’s to match. With the clock ticking.

It turned into the Bataan Death March of the trip.

Mind you, I don’t think we ended up walking more than three-quarters of a mile, and I don’t think we “climbed” more than thirty feet or so in elevation. This was neither the Alps nor the Australian Outback. But it was a trial.

I was trying to scan for a cab and we saw almost none along 42nd Street while walking to 11th Avenue. I saw maybe two of them between 11th and 10th, but they were all occupied.

Probably close to twenty minutes after leaving 12th Avenue we got to 10th Avenue. There I saw a cab that was waiting at the light and yelled for him. He saw me, I started to open the door, and I broke the first rule I had learned about New York City cabs. I told him where we needed to go as I was opening the door to get in.

He was not interested in a fare that took him all the way to CitiField. I’m lucky I didn’t lose a hand or get pulled into traffic as he took off to get away from us.

Another ten minutes or so brought us to 9th Avenue. This was a also a one-way street, heading from our left to right. The Long-Suffering Wife was about at the end of her rope with the trek. We were crossing the street when I saw an empty cab. I yelled, waved him down, and left her in the crosswalk to follow as best she could to catch up.

Wiser now, I grabbed the cab door and opened it up, urging TLSW onward to get across and into the cab. The air-conditioned interior was a beacon to her and I got her inside, slid in behind her, and then told the driver where we needed to go.

After that it was a piece of cake. Our driver was pleasant, not too chatty since it seemed we were dying of heat stroke in the back seat. But the AC was nice, the ride wasn’t too long, and we got to CitiField with about twenty minutes to spare…

…just as he let us out at the edge of the parking lot to walk up to the stadium on our own and the rain was starting.

In the end it was a good thing that the game was delayed by thirty minutes due to the showers. But we had a good time, saw a nice game, and then left in the top of the night after our long day and cab seeking ordeal.

Which led us to the cab ride back home…

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