Category Archives: New York

It Helps To Be in the Right Place Sometimes

As you all should know by now, the northeast got pummeled with a lot of snow thanks to a blizzard that was part of a nor’easter. If you were like me, you scoffed at the idea of 12 to 18 inches of snow until you realized more than two feet of snow fell. A foot would have been more preferable!

Today was the first weekday, a “happy Monday” if you will, which meant mass transit was put to the test in trying to get people from Point A to Point B despite there still being snow in some areas.

It was a shit show. The line at the bus stop was close to 50-deep and of the two buses that had shown up, only one barely accepted passengers (as in people snuck in through the back door). An express bus (a larger bus with a premium fare meant to get you somewhere with a little more comfort) showed up and I opted to take that instead, knowing full well it wasn’t really going to get me to work any sooner.

We crawled and crawled and crawled. The street was one of seven roads in Queens actually fully plowed but everyone was taking it very slowly and gingerly. It took us ten minutes just to move several hundred yards at one point. I didn’t mind it because at least I had a (mostly) comfortable seat and I wasn’t stuck on a regular bus having to hold onto a handlebar with my fingertips while trying not to elbow five people in the head and while trying not to have my balls smashed in by over 9000 Coach or Michael Kors bags.

By the time we finally reached the Midtown Tunnel it was already 9:00 (on a much more normal sort of day, I’m walking into the office by 9 after passing through the Midtown Tunnel at around 8:20 or 8:30). Everyone knew how late they were but there was nothing much they could do other than immediately getting up and standing in the aisle after requesting their stops.

As more and more seats became empty I was tempted to move up a few rows because I wanted to sit somewhere without someone next to me; I was in the sixth row on the driver’s side, sitting next to a woman who took up all her seat and a minute portion of mine. If I moved my arm or my leg, I would have made contact with her—I was seeking a seat that could allow me to move more freely, even a little. But as we traversed 34 St, approaching Fifth Avenue, I remained seated, not wanting to move despite my desires to move.

A young woman in the row next to me got up, ready to get off at the bus stop. Her bag nudged me in the knee ever so slightly. It was unwelcome but inevitable, the perils of riding mass transit with tight spaces. She was making her way to the door and I, for whatever reason, looked toward her seat.

“Excuse me, is that yours?” I asked.

She turned and looked. A silver laptop was there with its AC plug and adapter on the floor. It was obvious she had taken her work laptop home on Friday, just in case the blizzard made commuting to work impossible or if her employer decided to close on Monday, and she now had to lug the hefty machine back to the office today.

The laptop was not in a laptop-specific bag but rather inside one of those fancy, glossy paper bags you’d get at a store like Express. The bag was clearly not designed to hold anything heavier than a few pairs of them apple-bottom jeans, or dress shirts being sold at buy-one-get-one-half-off prices. The bottom completely tore open and the laptop had slid out, onto the seat next to hers.

She had no idea it had gotten out of the bag. She frantically went back and tried to get everything together. The plug fell out again so she had to pick it up. The bus driver closed the doors and was ready to keep going before she had to tell him to wait. She briefly explained her predicament to him, apologizing for, and justifying, the delay.

Had I moved up to the empty seat, I’m pretty sure that young woman would have left the bus without her laptop. She would’ve freaked out, and had to make calls to figure out where it was, which bus it was on, which route it was, what time it took place, what the laptop looked like, and so on. Not the kind of way you’d want a Monday to start. Because I remained in my seat, I was able to be a good Samaritan and spare her the misfortune of losing something of importance.

It’s remarkable how one small decision can have such a big impact.


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A Horrible Day—Another Year, Another Reflection

Thirteen years ago, everything changed.

It was an awful day. It was a tragic day. It was a day when we lost so much, but some of us gained something more.

We are told to “Never Forget” what had happened on September 11. Quite frankly, how can anyone?

  • Is it that easy to forget the image of two airplanes crashing into the two tallest buildings in New York City?
  • Is it that easy to forget all the people who died that day? All the firemen who went into the blazing inferno when others fled? All the first responders who searched through the rubble?
  • Is it that easy to forget the hysteria and chaos of what had been a beautiful mid-September day?
  • Is it that easy to forget about the confusion of not even knowing if your mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, aunt, or uncle would come home, or whether giving the routine goodbye that morning would have been the last?

Never forget.

Having lived through the horrors of that day, I can guarantee you that I will never forget. I will never forget being stricken with the terrifying thought that my mother, whom I had casually barely said goodbye to that morning, may have been stuck in one of the towers that morning, as her job was in Tower 2 at the time. It’s not the kind of thought one could imagine calmly, especially as a high school sophomore.

We have it pretty easy these days when it comes to breaking news. Something happened? Check Twitter on your phone, or check Facebook, or text someone, or call someone (wait, you can CALL people with an iPhone?) who might know. We have a lot of means of obtaining knowledge and information at our fingertips now. Back in 2001, not so much.

Some people had mobile phones, but otherwise we were in a vacuum. Sitting inside my school’s auditorium with other classmates fighting back tears of sadness was about as horrible a vacuum as I could be in as I really desperately wanted to know the status of my mom. People consoled each other. People prayed together. They didn’t always know each other (or liked each other) but in a time of calamity, like and dislike were minutia that were all irrelevant.

I still didn’t know the fate of my mom for another few hours. All I could do was still remain in the auditorium and just hope for the best—while also trying to find a phone I could call from. I and someone else eventually found a phone in an faculty office to call from. I called home and talked to my father. I asked him where my mom was.

He told me she was coming to get me.

I remember having to ask my father a second time where she was. He told me again. I may have asked him to repeat himself. But he was right, she was coming to get me and within a few hours, we were both reunited. What had been the worst day of my life became the best day of my life. I don’t think I have hugged my mom as tightly as I did that day thirteen years ago.

My September 11 had a happy memory but the same could not be said of others. One of my classmates lost her mother that day. Also seeing the Manhattan skyline with a plume of brownish smoke in place of the World Trade Center was an eerie sight I will never forget as I had thought the planes crashing into the towers were small planes—I thought the towers would still be standing but with a hole in the exterior.

I met someone earlier this summer who teaches music to middle school students. We talked about where we had attended school and I brought up being in New York during 2001. He told me that his students are mostly 11 and 12—none of them were alive when the tragedy happened and that these were the first students would have no first-hand or second-hand memories of it at all. That really got me thinking about how the future generations will look at September 11 a lot differently than we will. We will think of seeing the towers when they were still part of the skyline—when we could see them every day with our own eyes—while those born after 2001 will only know of them from history books and hearsay. For them, it will just be another day, but for us, it will always be that horrible day thirteen years ago we will never forget.

After all, is it that easy to forget?

Sandy〜Remember My Name…

Sandy: the one name that elicits a far different response now than it did more than one year ago today.

You say the name Sandy and a slew of different images come to mind: half of Manhattan cast under darkness; downtown Manhattan being deluged by water—waters that flooded the Battery Tunnel, the South Ferry subway station, and the tunnel used by the R train (a tunnel so ravaged by the flood waters that it is in the midst of a 14-month rehabilitation project); Long Beach; the Jersey Shore; Governor Chris Christie; TV ads proclaiming that New Jersey was “Stronger Than the Storm”; the amusement park at Seaside Heights laying in ruins; families and business owners either overcome with the loss of everything they owned or bereft of emotion because they had lost so much they don’t even know where to begin; gas rations; looters; scams.

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It Doesn’t Get Any Easier [It Never Will]

September 11, 2013.  You’ll look at the month and date and you’ll probably pause and reflect.  You’ll look at the year and you’ll not believe that that much time has passed.

It has and always will be the worst day of my life—most other people will probably consider it to be their worst day, too.

I wrote about what was then the eighth anniversary back in 2009.  Everything I said then still applies now.

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Yankees Opening Day

Baseball’s back (and better than ever?  Uhhhh…) and I took a trip to the Bronx to attend my first Opening Day game!

The weather was great to start but got very chilly (for spring) later on.  It didn’t help that the Yankees lost 8-2 to the Boston Red Sox but I still had a good time.

Here are some things worth noting:

  • CC Sabathia looks skinnier than ever.  Starting to live up to being billed as “Slimbathia.”  Still big but the girth he once had is now largely absent.
  • CC didn’t warm up to “Big Poppa” 😦
  • It was quite hot to start the game; my seats were still in the direction of the sun despite being under some shade.  I think I got a slight tan out of it…
  • The sound system in my section wasn’t working at all—we couldn’t hear any announcements during the opening ceremonies.  They finally turned on the speakers just in time for Mariano Rivera’s introduction.
  • A moment of silence was held to honor the memory of those killed in the school shooting at Sandy Hook.  Just heartbreaking thinking about those young children who were murdered.
  • The giant videoboard misspelled Eduardo Nunez’s name as “Eduardi Nunez.”  This was corrected quickly.
  • The crowd cleared at around the 6th or 7th inning.  By the 8th and 9th, it started to drizzle and get windy; this forced more people to hide for cover making Yankee Stadium look completely empty.

All in all, a fun time was still had.  Go Yankees!

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