Friday, March 16, 2007

Yes, I understand

Adventures in New York City...

I had a training session in Queens on Wednesday, just across the 59th St. bridge in Long Island City. I had stayed overnight in one of the apartments Met owns in the East village, and took the subway over for the class in the morning. I had lucked into a parking spot on the street and my parallel parking skills saved me the aggravation of parking in a garage. Had a nice walk around Union Square, a couple beers in a pub, and a good night's sleep.

When I got there, the first thing the trainer said was that we'd probably be done around 3. As Ashton Kutcher would say, "sweeeeet!" I'd be at the Holland Tunnel by 4, easy, and have a nose out in front of rush hour. I got off the train and walked up to 20th street, and that's when things began to unravel quickly.

My $%#&ng car was gone. See, they don't tell you this, but if there is one of these signs anywhere along the length of a street, you're illegally parked, no matter how many other no parking signs there may be. And per NY code blah, blah, blah, section umpteen, of 1959, the entire city is a tow-away zone. Now mind you, there's a sign 20 feet behind my car that says no parking Tuesday and Saturday mornings, and the No Standing sign is 50 feet in front of my car with an arrow pointing to Denmark. And, as noted, I had to parallel park in the only open space on the street.

The lady in the tow pound is royalty when she's behind that window. Nobody would probably give her the time of day on the streetcorner, but at work she's the Queen of England. From businessmen in $1,000 suits to punks whose cars are worth less than their sneakers, we are all equal --all subjects of the Queen. There are 10 bulletproof walk up windows, and one lady. And she's in no hurry to get you back in your car. Stand in line, "yes, ma'am, I understand," have a seat. Get called back up to the window, "yes ma'am, I understand," have a seat again. Never spoken, but crystal clear to everybody in that room, was the reality that any other response would cost you as much misery as Queen Latifah cared to dispense. Your car might depreciate before you see it again.

Called back up, "yes, ma'am, here's my $185". Down the hall to another room, hand over the paperwork, have a seat. After 2-1/2 hours, I finally get to my car and realize that my contribution to the city did not end with the towing fee and the chamber of horrors. There's still the matter of the two $110 parking tickets tucked under the wiper. When I get a parking ticket at home, it costs me 5 bucks and I don't even need a stamp.
What a racket. The city owns a fleet of tow trucks, buzzing in and out like blue bees with NYPD emblazoned on the side and armed cops inside. Probably 100 tow trucks, and ONE uninspired, underpaid lady to process all the paperwork. When she got up from the "information" window and walked over to the "cashier" window, I almost peed myself. No wonder they're behind bulletproof glass.

So, $405 and 3 hours later, I'm back in business, sitting behind 10 blocks of traffic trying to get thru the Lincoln Tunnel at 6 pm. New York thanks me for my visit - come again soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pizza Provi Wit

For people who live so close to Philadelphia, I have always been sort of ashamed to say we have never been to the birthplace of our nation. I mean, we've been to Philly plenty of times, and I even visited the Liberty Bell when I had jury duty, back when it was displayed in that little shack on Market St. But we've never seen Old City, the National Park, or Independence Hall. So, taking advantage of a visit with my good friend Liz, we did the tourist thing and actually stood in the hallowed hall. Very, very cool. We also walked down Elfreth's Alley, billed as the oldest continuously-occupied street in the nation, and of course had to take Katrina boutique shopping so she could fawn over all the Coach and Burberry stuff.

Also, I finally made it to Pat's for a cheesesteak. I've had a Philly cheesesteak before from Tony Luke's (not bad) but the center of the cheesesteak universe has always been where Passyunk crosses 9th; where Geno's and Pat's square off from opposite corners. For the record, the girls each got a Whiz with, and mine was a Pizza Provi with. You can get real good cheesesteaks in lots of places in the Lehigh Valley, and honestly I wasn't expecting much. I was surprised -it really was all that.
Notice how this space is basically

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Brace Face

OK, I said I'd update with important stuff if important stuff happened, and then it did and I didn't. In October, I had a visit with my friendly neighborhood orthodontist, and for the next 2-1/2 years or so, I will look like a teenager. The way the timing worked out, the big day was October 30, and I had the perfect Halloween costume for work the next day. Unfortunately, the next morning, the novelty was gone, and the braces were still there.

If you've had braces, you know the first couple weeks are just hell. I was totally miserable, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, and was seriously reconsidering my decision. But then I figured if a teenage girl can take it, what the hell is wrong with me? So, they're still here. Still a pain in the ass, too, but at least I'm not in constant pain anymore. In 4-1/2 months, my teeth have moved quite a bit already and I'm pretty impressed. Only 2 more years to go.