Day 3, cont'd.
"Hello," I said, cautiously. I saw this in a movie once. "Jonathan..." my mother's questioning-and-yet-relieved-in-knowing-that-I-was-still-alive's voice replied on the other end of the line, quite clearly, actually, for being over 2,000 miles away. Not that this should be a surprise. This isn't the fucking forties, after all. Some amazing advances in telecommunications have been made in the last few decades.
"Yeah-uh, hi...- what's.. up," I asked, taken aback. "I mean, I just walked up to the desk; we have to check back in."
"Well, I was wondering how big that hotel was! Is your room right by the office," relief and laughter in her voice.
"More of a manger, really. Hey, let me call you right back after we check in," I said.
"That was weird," I smalltalked with the clerk. After we got checked in, Rebecca went back to the room and I called my mother from the payphone in the lobby, yelling to her over the jackhammer the various details of our trip thusfar. She told me that she had tried reaching us three times the night before, but that we hadn't arrived yet, not to mention a slew of sleuth's work tracking down the hotel's address and phone number after I had casually mentioned it when I told her I was going to New York.
I smoked a cigarette, said my goodbyes to my unconvincingly 'not worried' mother, bought a tea from a vending machine and returned to our room, where Rebecca and I finished getting ready to make our way into the city.
The shower head in the bathroom was attached to the ceiling. Man, is North Bergen ever weird. Finally ready, we made our way to the lobby to inquire about the best way to the city, after discovering that the whole wall full of brochures boasting things to do in NYC wasn't worth a shit when it came to getting around, unless one is interested in horse-drawn carraige, which, while not only being really slow, is also quite expensive by my estimation.
The lady at the desk gave us a badly xeroxed, hand drawn map highlighted with a pink marker along with some very hurried oral instructions. This took about three minutes, at the end of which I asked how much it would be to just take a cab. When she said, "Probably about $40," I asked her to explain her crazy pirate map again, the "X" being the Park and Ride which was literally just across the street- only seperated by a mound of dirt, construction and a railroad, and this time I paid attention when she spoke.
She said we could walk, but the bus stop was a Park and Ride, and even though the term "across the street" sounds simple enough, there were no crosswalks, sidewalks (except a very thin one crossing a bridge over a busy road), or places that weren't covered in dirt or surrounded by construction crews or machines. There were, however, concrete barriers, giant muddy dirt mounds, and an endless flow of one lane traffic on both sides of the street to traverse. Hell is easier to navigate. So, we decided to drive. Even though the Park and Ride was not only less than one quarter of a mile away, but visible, in fact, we still got lost.
Of course, there was no way to turn left out of the hotel parking lot and easily round the curve that led directly to our destination. Instead, we had (or, we were told) to exit the hotel's parking lot from the rear of the building, go left (or was it right?) out of the lot and proceed to the nearest 'turnaround,' where we could then access the road that would lead us in the direction we needed to go. There was also the matter of a stoplight that we were told to wait at until it turned red, and then proceed through.
Though this was baffling, it did shed a great deal of light on the mishap we experienced the night before. Apparently, there are lights that one goes through when they turn red. Exactly. We ended up back at the hotel, feeling like dullards (that was probably just me..), asking for the third time about how to get to the goddamned Park and Ride. Luckily, the lady was friendly and courteous, as were most of the east coast residents we interacted with. Stereotypes be damned!
Eventually, we made it to the Park and Ride, parked the car as far away from the bus terminal as possible, and upon arriving, bought round trip tickets for our ride into the city. I smoked a cigarette in the drizzle and felt like a backwoods hick- no one else was smoking. Progressivism and ad indoctrination are still alive and well in the east, and out of the eight million stories in New York, I'd bet only about 500,000 of them smoke. It's just not romantic anymore.
The bus came, and I marvelled at how easily a would-be terrorist could smuggle a bomb on board and blow the Lincoln Tunnel to bits. Not one metal detector or C4 sniffing dog in sight. Not that I'm complaining- I just found it odd in a city that lost two huge buildings not three years ago.