– by Michael. Again.
I would like to thank all of the people who expressed a desire for my return trip to New York City to be less stressful and involved than the trip out to Chautauqua for the summer (detailed here and then again here).
And by “thank,” I mean “choke with a rope made of spined anacondas because you ensured that this trip would likewise be a hot mess.”
It started when I was notified by U-Haul that my truck – requested from a location 10 minutes away from my office – was available! In Dunkirk! Which is almost an hour away from my office!
And when I retrieved the truck, there were nachos and half a slim jim on the floor of the bed. And a pair of soaking wet cigarette butts – seriously – in the driver’s door compartment.
Now, the plan was – again – a somewhat simple one:
1. Drive down through Scranton and into the City via the George Washington Bridge
2. Drive to Inwood (northernmost neighborhood in Manhattan) and unload one of the pianist’s stuff at his home, in exchange for which he agreed to let me stay the night as he and his family are out of the country
3. Wake up in the AM and drive down Broadway to the office
And, for the most part, it went according to plan this time. At least, the primary three points were all addressed. However, there were several additional “sub-points” that were added in along the way.
For instance, Point 1 came with Points 1-A and -B: “Park for an hour in the Poconos for no apparent reason,” and “sit outside the Bridge toll booth for 50 minutes while people – who obviously are more important than you and have more to do with their time – inch past you and break in line left and right.” Seriously, I’ve crossed the Bridge at least a hundred times, and it’s NEVER been like that. Messy and annoying? Sure. But this was like swimming with piranhas while wearing a life-vest made of bacon.
Point Two had some fun going on, as well! Point 2-B, for instance, was “Take 90 minutes to drive from 180th to 212th because it’s Dominican Day and your neighborhood is at least 50% Dominican!” This was also a theme relating to Point 2-C: “After all unloading takes place, look for a parking spot for another forty minutes, find one by a miracle, and then get a parking ticket for it even though there are literally no signs – NO SIGNS – saying that you can’t park here.” (And yes, I WILL be calling the City about that.)
But the most interesting sub-point was Point 2-A: “Experience the joy of having a complete stranger yell vulgarity into your ear for no discernible reason.”
You see, I decided early on that I needed to call the neighbors that the pianist had asked to let me into his home and just coordinate a time-frame with them. So I called while still out west – several hours in advance – just to touch base. I introduced myself to the gentleman who answered, informed him of my probable arrival time, and asked if he and his wife would be around or if I should plan to arrive at the building a little bit later.
His response was – at first – nothing more than gruff: “Sorry, don’t know what you’re talking about, he needs to call me himself or I’m not letting you in.”
Understandable, if not terribly friendly – I respect his protectiveness of his neighbor. So I proceeded to say, “Well, that might be problematic, as he’s in France – perhaps he already spoke to your wife about this? Would you mind asking her for me?”
Or rather I proceeded to start to say this. Instead, at about the half-way point, I was interrupted by this lovely man saying, “Hang on, hang on. Hang on! HANG ON!” (Note: this has been somewhat edited for cleanliness. Kids read this blog. I think.)
Now, in general, I’m pretty low-key and willing to let things slide. But I was beyond exhausted already, having not had a single day off since the first day of June, and was facing a long drive followed by lots of physical labor and then more driving. So I responded with a simple, “Calm down, man.”
You would have thought I accused this man’s mother of being a prostitute who dabbled in cannibalism.
The stream of execrable language that poured through the phone into my ear was, upon reflection, impressive in its sudden onset and prompt escalation to DefCon Five level, if not in its variety. (He only used one particular word, and ignored any real attempt at varying its usage.) I finally hung up the phone, quivering with rage, and wondered how on Earth I would get into the building that night.
A dozen emails, a failed attempt to reach another neighbor (lovely lady, but out of town) and one trans-Atlantic phone call, I finally touched base with the building superintendent, who was more than happy to let me in. I unloaded, found the aforementioned parking spot, and proceeded to get absolutely zero sleep because the kittens decided to play a game of “wake up the hairy human every time his breathing becomes regular.”
So Sunday was more or less a wash. Thanks be to God, the actual office unloading went without a hitch, and I proceeded to Point 3-A:
Order Thai for lunch and remember, at long last, why I missed this crazy town in the first place.