Travelling is an adventure. Some adventures you document with photos, fancy dinners and souvenirs. You Photoshop everything and send to your friends, relatives and even print a few shots for your fridge door.
Others are a bit more difficult to define. They don’t approach the 5th ring of hell, but you must tend to the powder burns covering your ass from the close call with Hell’s Anteroom.
We left the pastoral fields of Virginia to attend my daughter’s wedding in Brooklyn, NY. I was born in the Bronx, have visited the City a myriad of times and am not afraid of traffic, cab drivers or strangers carrying bulky, dripping or odd items under their coats in the middle of summer.
Amtrak seemed the obvious choice for the most enjoyable ride. We barely slept Wed night, got up at 6:00am, tidied the house and got to the train station about 8:30am for a 9:00am train.
The train was an hour late, it had started raining and the humidity escalated to that of a men’s club Turkish bath. The train’s air conditioning was stunningly inefficient and we were an hour and a half late arriving in NY – where it was also raining and humid and rush hour was in full swing.
After bribing the guy with the taxi whistle with a $10 bill we got a cab. Trying to breathe deeply and relax I gave the driver the hotel address: The Henry Norman Hotel, 251 North Henry St, Brooklyn.
Mr. ‘Newly Ordained’ cab driver from the starship Moldovia assures me he knows the way. I’ve got Siri chirping on my iPhone giving directions for the best route. Instead of using the Queesnboro Tunnel, he starts for DOWNTOWN NY –- when I questioned he said, “Oh no, mum, we must use Brooklyn Bridge, much better now.” I’m figuring construction (when isn’t there in NY?) or 9/11 road closures (this was 9/10.)
Jerry was, as always, a calm and sweet child of God. Inexplicably, I revert back to my Bronx People Skills class from so many years ago. What is normally a 25-minute ride was now approaching two hours. All the time the driver kept assuring me it was the “right way” to go. He announced we had reached our destination – in front of a bodega on Henry Street – not North Henry Street at the hotel. And the cab’s air conditioning was broken!
The driver insisted we had given him the wrong address. I tried, I really did, to be reasonable until he smugly said: “well, mum, it is all your fault, you gave me the wrong address.” The meter was now at $52.00.
Jerry grabbed my arm as I tried to crawl through the Plexiglas opening into the driver’s seat loudly and colorfully proclaiming his ‘intentional misguided navigation skills’ as well as the validity of his parent’s marriage when he was born. It is then that the driver finally turns on his Siri navigation. I know, I know, we should have gotten out and gotten a different cab, but in rush hour traffic, in the rain, in NY. Cabs are non-existent.
We finally arrived at the hotel 2.5 hours late, Samantha met us on the street and could only say, “Ma, it’s okay…it’s fine. I’ll pay for the cab.” You know my answer to her.
I insisted Jerry get the luggage while I attended to discussing payment. Jerry figured the cab driver was ‘carrying’ and waited for gunshots so we could do a funeral after the wedding. The meter read: $63.95!
In a firm tone of voice I told him: “I am not paying $63 because you had no idea where you were going or needed extra cash for some relative’s operation in outer Moldovia!.” (I found out it was a usual $25 fare.)
Though my inclination was to call a cop, Jerry and Sam looked very concerned. With that, I pulled a $20 and a $5 outta my purse and threw it onto the front seat, took a pic of the cab and the cab number.
Yes, I am writing a letter – useless though it may be – it will happen.
Now…to ready myself for the wedding.