Saturday, February 9, 2008

OK, who let the hillbilly into the city?

I considered a few other titles for this blog:
"Rednecks get in but they can't get out" or "Nut's in the Hotel". Keep reading, it'll make a little more sense. . .

So I had to go to Newark NJ for a service call and asked in my blog if anyone knew of anything to do there. Would you believe that I had not realized that it was only 30 minutes from New York City? (Did I hear someone say "git a rope"?)

So Erica responds to my blog and invites me to come bug her in the big city. After I got over the "I can't believe I'm so stupid I didn't know I was next to NYC" moment, I jumped on the chance. My first night there I got all slicked up and headed out to scout the route where I was supposed to meet her. I've driven in Korea when I was stationed there and so the thought of driving in a city didn't intimidate me TOO much. I got into the city all right but then things started to get interesting. Shortly after I exited the Holland Tunnel, I found myself trapped into a lane that was headed right back to the tunnel andNewark! I had to get across three lanes of bumper to bumper or end up right back in Newark. So I tried to be polite and turned on my turn signal and attempted to merge.
Then I attempted it again, and again, and again . . .

After a few minutes of this, and my being forced by traffic closer and closer to the tunnel that was gonna take me right back outta the city, I decided I'd had enough. I figured "what the hell, mine is a rental car!" and I shoved my way right across the lanes.
OK, I've got the rules down pat now: Get aggressive or stay home!

So I found where we were supposed to meet the next night and then headed back to Newark. It was kind of ironic - right when I got into New York I was almost shoved right back out of it, so imagine my surprise when I can't get back to the tunnel to leave. Following my GPS, I had to keep shoving my way across traffic to get there, then 3 or 4 lanes being funneled down to 2, then one, then merge into the tunnel. I'm telling you, I can't believe that I didn't loose any paint! There were times I'd of sworn there was no way that a car could fit someplace without hitting something, but they kept doing it anyway.

Safely back at my hotel, I'm all cozy in bed reading a book at 10:30 PM when someone starts to pound on my door. When I was in the Army, we would have called it "The NCO knock". Well, I've been outta the Army a long time now and so was not terribly amused. Thinking to myself "What the hell could this be about" I get up and peek through the peep hole where I see a middle aged woman standing at my door. I open it a bit and ask
"Can I help you?"
"What side of the building is that?" she asks me kind of frantic while pointing into my room.
"I'm sorry, what do you mean? North, South, East, West, front, back? What do you mean by side?" OK, so maybe I wasn't being all that friendly, but come on, she dragged me outta bed for this?
"Well, what's it facing?" she demands.
"I have no idea," I said, beginning to get irritated, "Why? Is there something I can help you with?" I wasn't about to invite her in to take a look. I might have been born at night, but it wasn't LAST night.
"Well, there's something coming from there and going through my room and it's hurting me!" she stated matter of factually.
Did I ever mention that I am a Star Trek fan? Well at this point I can't help myself - I arch one eyebrow in my best Spock imitation.
"Really? That's fascinating. You know, I'm very sorry, but I don't think that I can help you. Perhaps you should consider calling the front desk - maybe they can help you" I told her, thinking to myself that I really wouldn't hold my breath, because I was pretty sure that she needed more help than the front desk can provide.
I gently closed the door.
Then I set the chain.
Then I set the dead bolt.
Then I watched her go into the room across the hall just to be sure she wasn't going after the fire ax. . .

The next day I finish my service call (which went a bit less than stellar), got dressed, and headed for New York again to meet Erica. This time I knew the rules so it went better. I just shoved my way where ever I wanted to be on the road and everything was just hunky dory. I entered the parking garage which appeared to be full. I was hesitating at the entrance, trying to figure out what to do since it was full, when a parking attendant walked up and told me to park directly in front of another car. I parked the car as he had told me to and then got out and confided in him.
"Look, I'm a stupid redneck from a small town so explain it to me would ya'? Whats that guy supposed to do when he wants to leave but my car is blocking him in?" I asked while pointing at the car he had told me to park behind. He went on about his business for a moment as if I hadn't spoken to him, and then he walks up and hands me a ticket.
"You have to leave your keys with me." He says, clearly resenting the fact that he has to explain this. At this point I'm torn. While not comfortable in them, I have spent a fair amount of time in cities and I don't recall ever leaving my keys with the parking attendant. I envision the possible outcome.

< dream sequence follows>
"Hey Erica, I left my keys with the attendant" I would say.
"You did WHAT?!" would shout Erica
"Well he told me I had to and he gave me this real cool ticket to get it back," I would reply.
"Oh my God, you poor, ignorant, redneck - your car has just been stolen!" she would say as she laughed herself sick while calling the cops.
<End Dream Sequence>

When I get to her apartment the door is not locked and she calls out to "Come in" so I do. She is still in the room getting ready and tells me to make myself comfortable, so I kick off my shoes, grab a beer, flop on the sofa, and turn the TV on! Nah I didn't - just teasing. Besides, why would I kick my shoes off? I like wearing my heels! I'm sitting there, still nervous about having left the keys, so I sort of mention it through the door, all the while fearing the dream sequence I described above. Well, turns out I did the right thing - just lucky I guess.

We talked a lot as she got ready. As seems to be the case with a lot of the TG's I have met, we have a good deal on common and I think that we hit it off well. We have many of the same attitudes and she has spent a good deal of time in Austin Texas so we have much to talk about. She has a wonderful attitude about life and being TG AND a sense of humor! There was nothing "forced" or uncomfortable about the evening. I felt immediately comfortable with her and it was just a very neat evening. Much like myself, she has a wife and children, and all the pride associated with them. Erica is every bit as beautiful as her pictures would lead you to believe. She wore a very classy outfit, looking every bit the sophisticated lady. This reminds me! This is the only place where I have ever seen the girls wearing mini skirts with big heavy coats on top! Most places I have been, if it gets cold enough for a big heavy coat, the women are NOT going to be wearing miniskirts. Psst . . . don't tell anyone but I liked it!

We had one amusing moment when I tried to describe my job. I am in the habit of sort of dumbing it down when I describe it to people. Not because people are too ignorant or stupid to understand, but because so few people have any experience or knowledge of semiconductor manufacturing. It's just not something your typical person has ever encountered. Suddenly Erica starts to comment and expand on what I've said, making it quite clear that she has a perfectly fine understanding of whats involved. Smart lady there. Important note to self "Do not assume" anything about people.

I know this sounds silly, but while we were eating dinner, I kept looking out the window and grinning like an idiot. When she asked what I was so amused about I just told her "Who would have thunk it - I'm eating dinner in New York city! That is SOOOO cool!" Yes, I was the small town hick gawking at the city in awe. I might as well have said "Garsh, this sure is a purty big bunch ah buildings y'all got chere!" :-)

We had a fine dinner and then she asked if I was up for visiting one of the local bars where TG's often
hang out on weekends. I'm riding high on adrenalin (I"M IN NYC!) and said "Darn right! Let's go!" and so off we went.

We went to a place called the "Nowhere bar". Nice place and we enjoyed some more conversation before calling it a night and getting a cab back to her apartment. Regretfully, we parted ways and I went to find my car - STILL feeling a little nervous about having left my keys!

I almost choked when I asked him how much I owed him! "$47," he tells me. I just sort of looked at him a second, waiting for the punch line but he wasn't smiling.
"Your kidding right? $47 dollars for parking 4 hours? Come on, your picking on the dumb hillbilly aren't you?" Nope, he wasn't kidding. And to think I had thought Boston was bad when it came to parking.
I dig out my credit card and hand it to him. He hands it right back telling me he only takes cash. Once again I feel one eyebrow start to rise, but its real hard to do a plausible Spock look when your dressed. I pay him, thanking God that I had been smart enough to carry some cash with me, because I usually don't carry much.

Most of you who have read my blog will know, that it seems like I have to have some sort crises on 80% of my outings, and here comes this one. You see, it appears that my GPS doesn't like to be surrounded by buildings and it can't find the satellites. I depended on my GPS and have no maps, and not the foggiest idea how to get out of the city. I drive around at random hoping the GPS will lock onto the satellites and guide me to the hotel but I have no luck. I find two or three areas that appear to be relatively open and park. No Joy
"Having trouble locating satellites. Keep Trying?" it keeps telling and asking me.
"Damn right!" I keep yelling at it, beginning to get scared.
I am not kidding, I had NO idea how to get out of the city, and by driving around at random hoping the GPS will lock on, I now have no idea how to get back to Erica's, or even how to describe where I am if I were to call her. My career is fixing equipment and gadgets when they go haywire, so I should have better sense than to stake everything on that little toy working. I swear I'm not exaggerating - this went on for more than 20 minutes and I was about to swallow my pride and call Erica, feeling ashamed that I didn't have the sense to carry a map, and that I had managed to get well and thoroughly lost, when my little GPS said "Calculating".
"You know, that's twice this city has been reluctant to let me out," I think to myself, almost giddy with relief. Then I sort of giggled. It's like those roach traps they used to advertise on TV when I was younger. I could hear the announcer in my mind: "Rednecks go in, but they don't come out!". Sorry, but I think this little redneck got away after all!

Got to my hotel about 30 minutes later and went to the lounge to get my free beer - a little perk for being platinum with them. No one in the place looked twice at me, I had a good book to read, and so I stayed for a bit. At about 130 AM I had had enough and headed for the elevator where I found one open and entered it. As the door closes and it starts up to the ninth floor I glance at the woman that had already been in it. Guess who? Yup yup, it's the lady from across the hall that pounded on my door the night before. I kept waiting to hear Rod Serlings voice start the narration of how I had just entered the twilight zone. You know what she said?
"Your shoes are SO cute!" she blurted out.
I grinned and said "Thank you! I figure if your gonna do it, you might as well do it right!" We both laughed and headed for our rooms. . . where I used the chain . . and the dead bolt . . .


  1. "There were times I'd of sworn there was no way that a car could fit someplace with out hitting something, but they kept doing it. " You should read/watch scifi. It is all about the time space continue.
    Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that my dad made me drive the car down the BQE(Brooklyn Queens Expressway) between Long Island and Washington when I was learning to drive.

  2. My Dad made me drive round Hyde Park Corner while I was learning, he thought that if I could manage that I could manage anything anywhere.

    Maybe it's a city thing but in London mini skirts are worn all year round, with or without long coats.