That was THE MOST Thrilling thing I’ve done in a long time. I know, I know, I should get out more. I have to tell you though, if you haven’t driven through NYC (YOURSELF, not in a limo or taxi) during rush hour…you haven’t lived. That was like … big boy league. I have never, in years of my Atlanta driving, EVER been in traffic like that. What a rush! Ok, I saw things I’ve only seen in movies and I’m not talking about the street vendors, ducks hanging in the Chinatown store windows, Broadway or zillions of people milling around. I’m talking about Die Hard quality special effects, stuff those Matrix guys have yet to dream up, stunts so seemingly choreographed that they boggle the mind, some call them New York drivers, but I call them…competition.
I’m driving next to the river, people are jogging, walking with strollers, hanging with friends, lanes of cars are surrounding me without an open space to be seen, a helicopter is landing next to Ye Ole Minivan on a pad in or on the river (I couldn’t determine which because we moved about 7 inches at that moment. I had to hyperfocus and not leave any open space around my van so the competition wouldn’t think I was weak. They can smell indecision a mile away and will merge into the space you’re actually occupying if you aren’t vigilant). Water taxis are going by, buildings loom overhead, trains are chugging, horns are honking and all around is the faint electrical buzz of NYC’s frenetic existence. It’s freaking AWESOME! I won’t even pretend that I’m not impressed.
So, as I was telling you yesterday…the little man that lives in my GPS is mad at me and sent me down the rabbit hole. I swear, I think I was the only car in NYC with a Georgia tag. My first NYC one-on-one experience was pleasant. The toll booth guy was very nice to me. He was probably glad I had my cash ready. You know, I never even got out of the car in New York and I spent about $15. Just tolls. If I’d found a vendor near my window who sold some of those fake watches I’d have been out more money though. My MIL gave me a fake Gucci about 12 years ago and that sucker ran for 3 years. I love watches and can’t afford my ultimate…a Rolex. I’d buy a good fake though, especially from a street vendor, it just cracks me up. I’d never pass it off as real though, I’d prefer to tell the story. Sadly, the only vendor close to my window was selling $5 flashlights with weird anime heads on them. Anime creeps me out most of the time, so…no vendor experience this trip.
At one point my GPS recalculated and told me that the best route was down a street called…Broadway. Now, I may not be a NYC native, but I don’t live in a hut in the Amazon either. (Too bad because then I could hunt piranha, use a poisoned dart gun and be that much closer to Manchu Picchu. I digress.) So, I used my deductive reasoning and came to the conclusion that I was in the midst of an enormous cosmic joke. I did cross over Broadway, but there was no way I was going to drive down it for a “shortcut”. I don’t have “bumpkin” stapled to my forehead. That was removed before I left town.
The GPS did take pity on me and find an alternate route that had me careening through about 300 people who decided they’d just stand in the crosswalk while the light was green. Really, there were about 300. It would have looked like a protest or a gang fight if people hadn’t also had shopping bags and been such a variety of folks that their sheer differences made them less scary. I had to herd those people with my van. I felt like I should be apologizing, but I just knew I needed to get out of the city however I could. Once I cleared the fog of people, the street ahead was revealed to me. Uh-uh. I had a moment where I wanted to shake my head to make the vision disappear. I thought I would be forever stuck between the cars that lined both sides of the one way road, but I somehow compacted my van and squeezed through. Did I mention that in NYC people just park their cars in the street? Like, you might be driving down a two lane road and suddenly there’s a car parked in your lane. You stop and everyone honks at you. Should you pull into the lane next to you even though traffic is barreling past you? You’d better, ’cause that guy behind you is going to pull out into that very traffic at about 50mph and give you the finger as he goes by. Then no one behind you is going to let you out. I still love it.
I could go on for hours about the driving tricks and maneuvers I witnessed, I didn’t even touch on the merges. I won’t though. They’ll just have to live in my happy memories. I will tell you what I said to my kids at one point while I was being funneled into another gridlocked tunnel. I said, “I’m a New Yorker deep down. Way down, like past the place where I was born in Tennessee, you know, past that.” DD just laughed, “Yeah Mom, way down.”