It was strange, because I'm used to those lingering goodbyes that we excel at here in the midwest. You know...someone looks at their watch and says, "Welp, it's about that time," or "You can never leave if you don't stand up," that kind of thing. So we stand up and make our way to the garage, through the kitchen where leftovers are forced upon the departing party. A list of things that may have been forgotton are rounded up. We head to the garage and continue talking about that one time and how we'll have to do it again real soon. Then we head out to the driveway and talk about the best route to the highway or whatever the traveler's final destination might be. We talk about where to get cheap gas. We hug and send them on their way. We'll stand in the driveway and wave goodbye as they back up and pull out. Then we'll say, "Welp..." and head back into the house.
This was different, though it was an extended departure from NYC for Andy and me. Andy had yet to buy a souvenier for his wife and I needed to get something for Doc, though what, I don't know. He's made no secret of his distaste for urban centers, NYC in particular. Although how he could judge a city he's never been in, I'll never know. But he's cute and funny, so I let him have his prejudices and try not to work him over too hard about this particular one. Anyway, I had no idea what to get.
We started looking in every souvenier store in Times Square. After the second or third one, I decided I'd go for the T-shirt John Lennon is wearing (but with sleeves) in this photo:
I figured he wouldn't mind dressing like John Lennon; he already kind of does. I also thought I'd like to keep this T-shirt for myself, so I picked out a poster of this for th Lodge:
So, I was done, but Andy was just getting warmed up. We tromped up and down Times Square. He was looking for something "artistic" for his wife. I pointed out several artistic things: he could have a portrait drawn of himself, he could by a novel called "Drug Bust" that was being sold on the street. But none of these things seemed good enough. After about an hour of fruitless searching, he told me, "Well, she asked for an I Love NY t-shirt."
"She asked you for that?!? Why don't you get it for her?" I said, flumoxed by the fact that he was making this way harder than it had to be. "You could have bought her one of those at the hotel gift shop!"
"I don't like to buy things I think are tacky," he said.
"Oh, for crying out loud!" I said, "It's 10:00! Just get her the t-shirt and let's get out of here!"
He sheepishly agreed and we went into the closest souveneir shop. We wandered around and he finally got her a t-shirt with a map of the subway on it, which was ultimately more tacky than the I Love NY tee, but oh, well. At least an end was near.
Laden with purchases, we decided to call a cab. "I need to sit down so I can go through my bag and find our taxi vouchers." I explained. My feet were killing me, is what I didn't say.
"We can go in here," he said, making a bee-line for the Stone Cold Creamery.
"But there's no tables," I said, trying not to whine.
"There's a counter," he pointed and found his place in line.
I grumbled to my self and set my bag on the counter, searching though all my paperwork until I found the voucher. I went to where he was in line and asked him to call, since his name was on the form. After a few minutes on the phone he headed for the door, explaining that he needed to find out where we were to tell the taxi company. And he was gone, for, like, forever.
His turn had come and gone and still no Andy. Finally he came back and got back in line. We waited and waited and he got his goddamned ice cream. We made our way to the corner, where, thankfully, there was a pizzeria that had TABLES! We decided to wait there and I got a tall glass of diet pepsi, while he finished his ice cream. A half hour had passed and we headed to the corner where Andy told them to meet us. The New York Times building was off in the distance and there was a drug store behind us.
I settled in to wait for a white LTD and soak up the last moments on Times Square. I was watching the crowds cross the street and I noticed a couple jay-walking. A bus came around the corner and the next thing I knew, the guy was on the ground.
"Oh, my God!" I yelped, as the guy next to me declared the same thing.
"That dude was just hit by a bus!" he said.
The injured party staggered toward us, drops of blood staining his white shirt. He was muttering as he passed. He went into the drug store and collapsed in the doorway. Then blood was spilling everywhere. My new best friend and I waved down an NYPD van and hollared to the policewoman that a man had been hit by a bus and seemed to be badly hurt.
"Was it a city bus or a tour bus," she asked us, all business.
"I don't know," we both said.
"OK, well wait right here, I might have more questions for you."
She went in and began to tend to the victim. Meanwhile a crowd gathered and started mumbling about a guy being hit by a bus. Very shortly thereafter, another policeman came over and began shooing everyone away.
"Move along," he said, waving his arms, "Nothing to see here."
All I could think of was, "Oh my God! It's just like in the movies!"
And then our car pulled up. I looked left. I looked right. An ambulance had arrived and they had the victim's arm bound up. Everything looked under control so I hopped in the car with Andy, who was now convinced I'm doomed with bad luck, and we made our way safely back to the hotel.
The next day was uneventful. We finished the training and got ourselves back to the hotel to wait for our delayed flight (Thanks, AirTran!). We had a great meal and the world's best French Onion Soup. Andy checked our flight and discovered it was undelayed. So we hustled our asses off to Laguardia and made it to security with 30 minutes to spare.
There is a line outside of the secuity room where we waited to have our ID's checked. As I stood in line, I could smell the unmistakable odor of feet. I couldn't for the life of me figure out where it was coming from. I took a surruptitious sniff of my clothes and bag. Nope, not me. It could have been Andy, but I didn't really want to venture a sniff. By the time we got into security I realized, it was the small enclosed room where thousands of unwashed feet had tread barefoot on the industrial carpet. Ah, Laguardia.
We finally got to the AirTrain gate and sat amongst the grumpy, sweaty, unhappy travellers. At long last, our flight was announced and we left the big city for the wide open spaces. The flight was uneventful and we landed safely. I got off the plane and the first person to greet me worked for the airline and she was smiling. Andy and I made our way into the sparklingly clean main lobby of the airport, where, instead of grumpy sweaty people, we saw happy, expectant people, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of the latest arrivals. I looked to my right and saw something I hadn't seen for days: A drinking fountain.
"Did you notice," I asked Andy, "That there are no water fountains in New York City?"
"Probably because they want you to pay for everything," he explained.
"Probably because they don't want you to pee in them," I explained.
"Well, have a good night!" Andy said, hauling ass to his car, eager to be done with me and my kharma. I was reminded of an exchange from Red Green:
Did I say something wrong? Harold asks...
No, he left, didn't he? Red retorts...
A good night indeed, I thought to myself, as I dragged my tired ass to E8, got into my car and zoomed home.