Monday, May 25, 2009

Shadows Searching in the Night - OR - Tales of Melissa Finding Her Way in NYC

I think that, more often than not, I take the wrong train. Somehow I managed to always eff things up. It's ok, my friends are patient.

I have had a number of adventures being lost, some less frustrating than others.

On Tuesday of last week I booked a Chinatown bus to DC and had to find my way to where the bus was by 9:30 in the morning. Considering I had my backpack packed and was out the door by 9:45ish, you'd think I'd have no trouble getting from Wall Street to Penn Station. You'd be wrong. Kind of. This time I wasn't so much lost as I was unknowingly at least a half mile from where I needed to be when I got off the train. After walking in the direction I KNEW I needed to walk, I was exasperated to find that I still hadn't reached 8th avenue. I asked a guy which direction it was and he told me (the way I was heading) but told me it was X AVENUES further. And mind you, there are other streets in between the Avenues. I looked at the time and thought about the fact that I had to go X Avenues in X minute and grew disheartened. At some point I had one more Avenue, two more minutes, and the do-not-walk symbol is up. After waiting that out, I sprinted ran the final distance and arrived, red cheeked and somewhat overwhelmed, but made it on my bus.

On Thursday night, back in The City I was meant to meet a high school acquaintance at some club or another in SoHo. The bus back from DC had taken significantly longer and after primping and preening, it was already a minute to midnight, the suggested arrival time. 'No worries!' I thought, 'I know the train and the stop and I shall have no trouble at all!' WRONG. I got on one train, got off at the proper stop to transfer to the right train and then sat there. Well, the whole train sat there. Usually the drop-off/pick-up of passengers is pretty streamlined, but the train just sat and sat. Finally the conductor announces that it'll be 'a moment' because there is a hold up at Chambers. A few minutes later the conductor announces thanks us for our patience and announces it'll be 'a little longer' because there is a police investigation going on at Chambers. These announcements occur every few minutes while I am sitting next to a pair of self-absorbed twins with Broadway aspirations and the silver spoons in their mouths surprisingly not inhibiting their speech. They talked on and on and on and on. When the announcer said for at least the tenth time, or maybe the third, that we'd be departing 'shortly' but Chambers was still blocked, I got up and walked to the nearest exit.

By this time it was at least 12:30 am and dark and I exited onto an unfamiliar street which was mostly blocked off for construction. I was lost in The City in a strange neighborhood (but not the Bronx) and had only $6 cash on me. (FML) I walked and walked, looking and feeling lost, until I found an ATM finally. I withdrew some cash and then after a few more blocks hailed a cab. I finally arrived at the party and can announce that it was worth none of the time and effort. It was a dark little bar full of gay hipster boys and snooty hipster girls, all parading like peacocks with tails on display. And when I say full, it wasn't that full. And I thought hipsters were all poor, starving artists and musicians, but these hipsters could apparently afford poppers and $13 vodka drinks. But more on this in the upcoming 'Hipster Manifesto and Related Studies."

Now, this does not involve being physically lost, but it can make a person feel lost. I left my card at that piece of crap bar with the overpriced drinks. Having ordered a simple drink: A double-vodka-soda-with-lime I was slapped in the face with a "That's $26." Ignore the woulda-coulda-shouldas and I'll tell you that, in a state of shock, I handed the bartender my card. Then I tasted my drink which did have vodka, but as it was in the same glass as a single, it had very little soda and not even a squeeze of lime. After standing around alone among the peacocks (I, a pea-hen?) and sipping my awful drink, I was desperate to leave. When high school acquaintance Mr. bHip suggested we hop in a cab and head to a more happening bar, I jumped on that bandwagon and into that cab, leaving my card. On Saturday I went to retrieve my card - Friday didn't work out. I called in and received no call back. I went in and was told that my card was not there. I KNOW I LEFT IT THERE! I had people 'go look' and I was told that they didn't have my card anywhere and if they did find it, they would give me a call because they had my info (just like they gave me a call when they didn't find it? OH.). So there I stood, cashless, cardless, and at the start of a THREE DAY WEEKEND. Amazing. And just to add to it. When I called in to cancel my card, the last transaction was that bar running my card. Luckily only $2.88. I should probably dispute it.

And the final big tail of being lost took place yesterday when, once again, every station within a quarter mile of me was closed. Wanna hop on the 2-3 at Wall Street? TOUGH. The JMZ on Wall? HA. Anything nearby? Good luck! I had somehow lost my handy little metro map and had to guess. I took the nearest subway in the direction of Brooklyn before realizing that there are a lot of different lines in Brooklyn that do not connect in Brooklyn. Then I went back to Manhattan and decided to try my luck at one of the stations with a whole lot of trains, thinking my odds of getting on the right train would be better. For some reason it was almost impossible to find a friggin' subway map except on the trains, which actually got me on trains a couple times just to look at the maps (and the subway station attendants never have maps). Finally, after discovering that the 2-3 goes to the stop I want, I head off to find a 2-3 but can't look at any sort of map since my effin' phone decided to stop recognizing my sim and then decided that it would go from 3 bars of battery power to the blinking red low battery in the blink of an eye. I asked and someone did tell me where to find it. '7th Avenue' he told me. So then I kept walking and actually saw a 2-3 entrance at 6th and stupidly entered there - into the labyrinth that is a sprawling subway station. I must have walked in circles and curly cues and up and down stairs for 15 minutes before I finally found a Brooklyn bound 2-3. I hate the MTA and their insistence on shutting down my stops on weekends.

Because I am writing this, you know that I am not lost, in fact I am found. I am safe and sound. Luckily or because I am not a complete idiot and can be resourceful or sometimes I even ask for directions.

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