Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

(My own little version.)

I recently attended a workshop in New York, and found a cool room in Manhattan on http://www.airbnb.com, and the hosts were warm and generous, offering me a free extra night.  With hours of free time the next morning in New York City, I planned to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  But alas, it was closed, along with most museums on Mondays in NYC.  So I hailed a cab and headed for something open – the Museum of Modern Art.  While waiting for the museum to open, I stumbled upon a Cuban restaurant and enjoyed a heavenly cup of café con leche.  Heavenly, I say, because it was my first cup of coffee in a long time.  I’m wired enough without the stuff, so it will remain a rare treat.

Once inside the museum, I headed for the fifth floor to relish in the thousands of brush strokes by the masters.  There’s nothing quite like beholding an original piece of art, imagining each painstaking stroke of genius splashing on new canvas.

I caught a cab back to my room to pick up my luggage, then hailed a cab to take me to the airport.

“Can you take me to the White Plains airport?” I asked the driver.

“The what?”

“White Plains airport.”

“I gotta find that one,” he said, flipping through his book.  “Here it is – it’ll be one hundred dollars.”

I flew for free, got an extra night for free, and wasn’t about to let a cab driver spoil my fun.

“I’ll take the train.  Take me to Grand Central.”

“Which train do I take to get to the White Plains airport?” I asked the lady at the Grand Central ticket counter.  I was getting a little nervous about catching my flight in time.

“You can take the train to White Plains, but will have to find a ride to the airport,” she said.  “Track 111, down the stairs to the right.”

I commandeered my 45-pound suitcase, backpack and small backpack purse down the stairs.  (Backpacks are easiest in New York, with all the walking you do.)  At times like this, I make endless promises to myself about traveling light next time … knowing full well they’ll be broken.

Once on the train, the conductor started collecting tickets.

“Which stop do I get off to get to the White Plains airport?” I asked him?

“First stop, Ma’am.”

So, first stop I raced for the door with bags flying, and managed to shove one into the closing door, so it would open enough to let me out.

I lumbered down two very long flights of stairs and out onto the street … 125th Street, that is.

No, it can’t be.

I hailed a cab.

“Can you take me to the White Plains airport?” I asked the driver.

“Where’s that?”

“Westchester.”

“No.”

“Well where am I?”

“You’re in Manhattan.  This is Harlem.”

I’m still in Manhattan, just as I feared!

I called my sister-in-law.

“Zinora, I’m in friggin’ Harlem!” I said, bursting into tears.

“You’re where?”

“I’m in friggin’ Harlem!  The conductor told me to get off at the first stop, and I’m in friggin’ HARLEM!”

(Now, don’t get me wrong.  The only thing wrong with Harlem at the time was that I simply didn’t need to be there!)

“Jude, calm down.  Get back on the train and go to White Plains.”

I dragged my bags back to those daunting two flights of stairs, looked up at them, and started to cry.

“The station is right there across the street.”

I looked toward the voice and saw a smiling gentleman peacefully pointing toward the station.

How did he know where I needed to go when I didn’t even know?

“Thank you,” I said with composure.

Inside the station, I got on line for the only open ticket window.  I looked at the time and started to quietly panic.

“I came from Grand Central and need to get to White Plains,” I explained to the man behind the window bars.  “The conductor told me to get off at the first stop.”

“That was a miscommunication, Ma’am.  He meant the first stop after Harlem.”

Wonderful.

“So how do I get to White Plains?”

“If you have your ticket, I can refund it and give you a new one.”

I rummaged through my bag.

“The conductor took my ticket.  Just give me what I need to get to White Plains!”  I was still ahead of the game, refusing that one-hundred-dollar cab ride.

I loaded up my packs with bag in tow and made it up the two flights of stairs across the street.  Next stop … White Plains … finally.

I wonder if that smiling gentleman was an angel.

I got a cab ride to the airport, just in time to hear the announcement of my flight boarding.  I checked my bag and was making it quickly through security until the TSA agents started having a lively conversation over my backpack.

“Ma’am, is this yours?” asked an agent.

“Yes!”

“There’s something sharp in it, like a corkscrew.”

Sure, I’m going to try to kill someone with a corkscrew.

“It’s in the front pocket,” I said.  “My flight’s boarding.  Just take it.”

He pulled out the corkscrew and examined it, opening the ¾-inch blade.

“Yep.  That’s a sharp blade,” he said.

Like I’m going to carve into someone with a ¾-inch blade.

“Just keep it,” I said.  “Are we through?”

“Stay calm,” he said.  “You’ll make it.  I just need to pass this pack through security again.”

My imagination runs wild with what I could do with that ¾-inch blade right now.

Now I need to get Zinora a new corkscrew.  Maybe she’ll forget about it.

If I can count on my family for anything, it’s that they’ll never read my blog.  But yes, I’ll buy Zinora a new corkscrew anyway.

I made it to the gate just as they were making the last call for all zones to board.

I’m finally in the air, and all is well.

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