It’s been difficult for me to accept what I’ve got to say and, what I’ve got to say is, “I’ve been collecting unemployment for almost six months.” There, I said it and, it doesn’t necessarily feel like a burden has been lifted from me. So in this blog post I’m going to try a different spin for you and me. During the last six months, I’ve battled depression, anxiety, anticipation and assorted angst. I’ve travelled to New York City to rebuild contacts, establish new ones and seek employment in my chosen field. During this time I’ve had the opportunity to sustain myself on airport cuisine, food trucks, the company of strangers and customer service agents.
My pre-booked taxi arrives via the 303 taxi app, and to my delight, the driver is right on time. He grabs my suitcase and places it in the trunk and asks which airport. I tell him O’Hare and apologize that I didn’t know how to program the destination with the app. He just laughs and we drive off. He notifies me it’s a flat rate fare and turns off the meter, it’s a nice way to start this voyage.
At the airport it’s a quick stop at the American Airlines self-checkin kiosk and I’m off to the security checkpoint where I notice, I’ve been given TSA pre-check clearance status. That means I get to keep my shoes on and wait in the shorter line. Due to my ultra economy ticket price I won’t get my seat assignment till I’m at the gate. I know this means the middle seat and as far back as possible. When the agent gives me my seat assignment, it’s an upgrade to economy plus.
Bigger seats, more legroom and complimentary cocktails. It’s a Sunday evening and things are really going great. I am relegated to boarding with my group, which based upon my fare is cleared to board after anything that is paying more than me. Therefore, by the time I board, I must check my carry on bag as the overhead bins have been filled with souvenirs, Garrett’s popcorn, jackets and boots. My bag will be available for pickup at baggage claim when we arrive. Oh well.
The airplane ride was relatively uneventful and the evening landing over Flushing Bay was unnerving. Thankfully the runway appears before we divert into a water landing. It’s been awhile since my last visit to LGA and it is currently undergoing a thorough and total makeover, luckily, it’s Sunday evening and, nobody is here. Making my way through the concourse, collect my bag and make my way to the NYC Transit bus that will take me to the train where I’ll get to Manhattan. The signs are relatively easy to follow and navigate through the airport, at the transfer station and my iPhone gives decent directions to the right stop. After a brief walk from underground the E train station, I rise into the hustle and bustle of north Times Square. It’s pitch dark outside, yet I instinctively reach for my sunglasses as the lights are burning my pupils. It’s just a short walk to my hotel where I’m given an upgrade to an exterior room overlooking Broadway.
After washing my hands, it’s time to grab some dinner before turning in and getting as much rest as possible before my meetings tomorrow. I walk around realizing that the New York deli has changed from my last time in the city. Firstly, they aren’t on every corner anymore, however the Halal Guys Food trucks are, it’s just not what I’m in the mood for though. After a few more blocks I circle around and settle upon an Irish tavern. I settle at the bar and order a Miller Lite and am told no Miller Lite, only Bud or specialty Irish craft beers. Fine. Bud gives me a headache so I take the house named lager and order a reuben with a side salad instead of fries.
The beer is refreshing, cold and satisfying. My sandwich arrives and it tastes like it was made in the microwave and not slow-cooked as the menu read. What do I expect, I’m in New York. One more beer and then I ask for the check. I calmly refrain from expelling myself as the bill totals $50 dollars. Fifty dollars for two beers and a mediocre sandwich and, I swapped the fries for the salad. Oye. New York, New York, some things haven’t changed.
Over the course of the next three days I had the opportunity to eat a spicy sausage from the hot dog cart. I ordered onions and mustard on mine, and after the man splashed the sautéed onions in red sauce on my food, I silently rolled my eyes. In chicago, an onion is an onion, and not sautéed in tomato. I remind myself to not order the chowder later, because I’ll be disappointed.
My hotel room is on the seventh floor and relatively quite and I sleep well through the night. In the morning I go for a quick walk around the corner to find a coffee, bagel and shmeer. The bagel is the size of chicago pizza and I’ll easily be able to snack on it later or eat the other half tomorrow morning. My meetings go very well and for lunch I meet a friend at a greek run coffee shop similar to a Seinfeld sketch. I opt for easy BLT and, although the bacon was from breakfast, it wasn’t horrible, it’s New York.
The afternoon meetings go well and by the time I stop for dinner, I check my phone pedometer and notice I’ve walked seven miles. No wonder I’m feeling stiff, dehydrated, tired and not just from the one hour jet lag. For dinner I do not return to the Irish bar, instead being budget minded, I throw caution to the wind and stop into the well lit and populated $.99 cent pizza. I get the special, two pieces of cheese and bottled water for $2.50 and, I toss the change into the tip jar. I spark a conversation with some of the people and am really not surprised that not one local is in the parlor, except those working behind the counter.
There is a guy asking for money when we leave and he tells someone that he doesn’t eat this pizza and, that there’s better around the corner. I roll my eyes, chuckle to myself, oh New York. While I did upgrade my selections for the next few days, my budget and menu options really did not drift far from pizza slices and bottled water.
When I got to the airport to return to Chicago, I enjoyed a surprisingly good breakfast of over medium eggs, fresh bacon, toast and potatoes at the airport and it was less expensive than Manhattan. Oh New York.
In conclusion, I don’t recall the big apple being as calm as it was for this visit. The food was overpriced, the drinks were overpriced and, the people were helpful, considerate and friendly. Whether I needed directions, suggestions or assistance, I was never met with antagonism, duress or meanness. Oh New York, you played me so well. How will you treat me next time?