After my family trip story last week, my friend Nina shared her and her husband’s recent trip with me.
Dave and I went to New York City for a few days. It had its glitches-
Dave was impatiently waiting in the taxi queue at JFK airport and I was on my phone when he suddenly said, “Quick, I got us an Uber!” And before I could say anything or ask questions, a man was loading my suitcase into the back of an SUV. It was.... a fake Uber and it was quite the harrowing trip to our hotel.
Traffic was at a standstill so our driver pulled onto the shoulder and raced past everyone on his illegal lane. Yikes. I texted Dave- "We are in a FAKE UBER." Texted him NOT to pay by credit card, and that one should always, always use the Uber app. Now we were in a stranger's car, illegally speeding towards Manhattan. It cost more than a cab, too. But, we survived.
We took a train from Grand Central Station one morning, up to Connecticut just so I could add one more state to my list. Greenwich, CT is a pretty, tidy town but very, very wealthy.
How wealthy? Oh, we had a laugh later after we stopped into a second hand clothing store. I wouldn't dare call it a thrift store because I picked up a used designer purse and looked at the little paper sales tag. $1559. For a little pink purse. Gulp. The gently used blouses started at $270.... and we said Good Day and walked quickly out of there!
We did get sandwiches for lunch and thankfully, those were not designer sandwiches, but it was a good fresh mozzarella and ripe tomato sandwich on crusty French bread. Then we walked back to the train. I like that public transportation is so easy there- a train every 20 minutes back to the city.
I like to collect scents and smells and I'm glad my sense of smell is back. The smell of rain, of hot dogs and pretzels and the smell of horses and grass in Central Park. And often, the smell of weed. It's legal and everywhere, more so than the occasional whiff of cigarette smoke on city streets. I don't think we could go a block without the smell of pot coming from some corner or next to a shop or alleyway.
We got a lot of walking done, went to a few museums, and went to a musical- Six, about the six wives of Henry the eighth, told by six women in modern, diva pop style. Dave chose it and it was lively and fun and we were able to walk back to our hotel afterwards.
We were walking in the rain, single file, on the crowded sidewalk on the rainiest of Wednesdays when I had something odd happen. A man, coming in the opposite direction, grew frustrated by the slower people in front of him. He crossed to our side of the sidewalk and struck my umbrella as hard as he could, causing me to stumble. Dave and I were stunned. Why would he do that? I wasn't in the way, wasn't stopped on the sidewalk. We chalked it up to him having personal problems and went on. Then, on Friday, we were eating take out Cuban sandwiches at a little table on a sidewalk quite close to a city intersection. An older lady was getting ready to step out and across at the signal when a man came flying along on his bicycle in the wrong direction in the bike lane. The lady called out, "Hey, you almost hit me! You are going the wrong way!" And at hearing that, the man dismounted his bike, flung it down into the bike lane and stormed over to the woman. Swore and screamed at her. Spat on her. And then gave her a tremendous shove and stomped back to his bike. Bystanders and the woman and her husband were all stunned.
He rode off. The woman stared at him for a minute and continued on her way. Wow, I said to Dave, things could have been a lot worse for me. Out of all the pleasant memories, the show, the walking to Grand Central Station, Central Park and the many thousands of perfectly decent people we passed and sometimes talked with, those two guys stick in my mind. They are now part of the story of the trip, as much as the pilot in uniform who sat between us on the flight to New York, telling us wistfully that he was retiring at the end of the month, having reached the mandatory age limit for pilots. I asked him what his favorite place to fly into was. “Aruba,” he said with a smile.