As usual, I got up this morning at 4:50 for my day in our White Plains office. I drive down to Newburgh, leave my car and hop in with a long time friend and coworker. I have written about him before and how I enjoy that ride once a week with him. I have know him for over 20 years and although we are both older and grayer, to me anyway, it appears like no time has passed.
I had my usual meetings and by 11am felt like I accomplished a day’s worth of work. I was now off to Manhattan for a lunch appointment in midtown at Docks on 3rd and 40th. http://www.docksoysterbar.com/. It is spectacular: the food, the atmosphere and the tempo of business lunching in NYC. God I have missed this.
Maria, Darin and I took the train from White Plains into Grand Central. For the past 15+ years, I have commuted into NYC to Penn Station and I had forgotten how great the trip is on Harlem Line into the tunnels and finally Grand Central Station. When the doors opened and we stepped onto the platform, I turned to my friends and said, “I love that smell”….the smell of New York City; of decades and quite possibly a century of dirt and grim deep into the bowels of the lower tracks; the crowd scuffling forward and as you rise into the main concourse, you breathe the smell of fresh coffee and pastries from the bakeries.
I love that view as you walk up into and face the main concourse and hear the crowd, the train announcements and a long time ago you could hear the tick-tick-tick of the train board changing the trains and tracks for the commuters to find their way home. I remember once there was a bad storm. I worked in the MetLife/PanAm building and when I came down the escalators into the station, that big board was dark. No trains were running and thousands of people stood and waited for that board to begin that gyration once again. It was surreal.
I was 23 years old when I first worked in Manhattan. I was scared to death. I remember taking the train downtown to visit a client on Water Street. After the appointment, I could not find the subway “hole” to get back to midtown. Thank God for a good Samaritan who helped me along. Now I am that person who helps the tourist standing with a map or takes a picture for a couple or warns someone to be careful.
I could write forever about my experiences and adventures in NYC:
- The cab driver I shared a cookie with who had no fingers or thumbs on his hand…how did he drive? Or the cab driver who actually got out of the cab on 12th Avenue and peed on the side of a building…while my meter was running! I short paid him for the time he took to relieve himself.
- The fruit stand guy in my neighborhood who when I was pregnant, loaded me up with fruit every night when I got off the #6 train…the more pregnant I was, the more fruit he gave me.
- The reggae bike messenger that I was stranded in the elevator with…in JULY….Can you say ‘deodorant’? Gotta love those NYC Firemen for getting me out.
- The huge rat that met me in the office hallway one night and the mailroom guy who saved me after I screamed bloody murder.
- The Polish car service drivers who would pick me up at Laguardia late at night and play beautiful opera or jazz as we drove into Manhattan on the Triboro Bridge.
- The blackout in lower Manhattan when I walked down 54 flights of stairs and then trekked uptown until the subways began running.
- The coffee cart guy who knew how I took my coffee each morning even though he called me Mommie or Jennifer. (My office badge was around my neck with my name on it!)
- Windows on the World; Tavern on the Green; IL Nido; Serendipity; FAO Schwartz; the NYC Marathon; a mani/pedi for $19; The NY Knicks and meeting a star or two on the street.
- 9/11. It is still hard to say anything about that day.
How lucky am I to still be here, to enjoy Manhattan and to stop again, today, at the fruit guy stand on Lex to purchase some beautiful Ranier Cherries? Very.
I love New York. Try it and you will love it too.
I’m with you on this one. I share some of those memories, and NYC is a community. It pulls together and everyone gets along well when it counts. I remember citizens directing traffic at all the intersections during the blackout and I remember drivers obeying them. NYC is a wonderful place, even for a country boy like me.