Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tales of the City.

No, I'm not blowing you off with another lift from Overheard In New York. But I will start with this:

Tourist guy: Excuse me, do you work here?
Uniformed employee: Yes...
Tourist guy: Oh good. Is this Central Park?
Uniformed employee: No, this is Dale and Thomas Popcorn.
Tourist guy: Oh, well the bus guide said this was it. Where is it?
Uniformed employee, pointing north: Just walk that way.
Tourist guy: Well that's not much help, how the hell am I supposed to find it?
Uniformed employee: Oh trust me, you'll find it.
Tourist guy: HOW?
Uniformed employee: IT'S A BIG FUCKING PARK!
--Dale and Thomas Popcorn, 48th & Broadway

Sometime in the mid-80's, I fly into Newark, take the shuttle to Port Authority and catch a cab from there. I tell the driver, a man named Xrhdtpzychntp, my hotel and he looks puzzled. I tell him it's on Central Park South and he nods, says OK, and we're off, heading north on Eighth.

I look at a script I was directing that afternoon, check the time I have to be at the studio, you know, gearing up for work. I look up and we're cruising through Columbus Circle. I say, "Hey, Xrhdtpzychntp, you missed your turn."

He says, No, he's taking me to Central Park South.

I tell him he's just passed Central Park South.

He insists he knows where he's going. INSISTS.

I point in the direction we're going and say, "Do you know we're heading north?"

He says he does.

I point to Central Park on our right and say, "See that big fucking green thing? Do you know what that is?"

He says nothing. He's steamed.

I tell him, "THAT, my friend, is Central Park. So, if we're heading north and that's Central Park that means we're going the wrong way and you have to turn this fucking cab around and go south until you see the statue of Columbus again and then you turn fucking left and THAT will be Central Park South."

Surprisingly, he didn't turn right and drown us both in the reservoir.

I have other New York cab stories, but they require alcohol and time, neither of which I have today at work. And no one is more disappointed about that than I am.

But if you're so moved, tell us a New York story. If you've been there, you've got at least one.


Jim Winter said...

March of 2005. It's my first time in New York City. VERY first time. (Sorry, Barry.)

I just had breakfast with Stella, who kindly took me downtown to see the Trade Center. After spending about half an hour trying to get my brain around something that big and its subsequent absence, I head down to the subway to try my luck getting around the city.

A woman walks up to me as I wait for the #1 to take me up to the Village where I'm meeting a friend. She tugs on my jacket and says, in a southern accent, "Excuse me, sir, but can you tell me how to get to Woodside?"

Right now, Manhattan is a challenge for me. And I'm standing in the middle of it. I politely ask her where Woodside is.

She looks at me like I'm stupid. "It's in Queens. You're obviously from Brooklyn. Don't you know?"

I sigh and wonder if this is the same woman from Alabama who asked me in Cleveland four years earlier when they set the river on fire. (I said it was down for maintenance.) Rather than argue, I look at the signs (Well, now there's a novel concept!) and say, "Da trains goin' dis way go to Da Bronx and Queens. Da trains goin' dat way go to Brooklyn. Ya gotta take a boat to Staten Island."

I sent her to JFK.

I know. I always tell that story. But every time I go to New York, people keep asking me directions. I think it's because of how I wield the might Metro Card. Still can't speak transiteese, though.

Lisa Hunter said...

In my misspent youth, I learned that if you were dressed up on a weekend night, and carrying a small (empty) box of Godiva chocolates, you could waltz into any fancy building, say, "I'm here for the party," and be sent upstairs to whichever apartment happened to be having a fabulous soiree. Someone always was, and after about 50 guests, the doormen ceased to check names.

David Terrenoire said...

Very nice. Thank you.

Yes, James, you told me that story when we were in Chicago, but I'm happy to share it with the Planet.

And Lisa, that empty box of Godiva chocolates is beautiful.

We used to do something similar back in my misspent youth, using a clipboard and a borrowed deuce and a half truck. But the context might have been a bit different.

Thanks to you both.

Daniel Hatadi said...

The only time I've been to New York was in the summer of 2000 and the reason was a university buddy's wedding.

A couple of hours before the ceremony, my date and I went to Macy's to get hold of a wedding present, finally settling on one of those awful 'water features' that were all the rage.

With time still on our side, we hopped into a cab and told the driver to head to the Botanical Gardens.

But we hadn't counted on traffic.

On the way over, with the pressure of time spurring us on, my date and I settled into a fine argument, letting off steam while trying to blame each other for taking too long. We arrived at the Gardens in time to see everyone indulging in champagne.

I travelled half way across the globe for a wedding and ended up missing the ceremony.

Thus endeth my 'New York moment.'

Elizabeth said...

When I first arrived in New York to go to college, I flew into Kennedy - which I knew was about a $30 cab ride from Pratt Institute (ok, it was a while ago). My cab driver asked if I was new to the city. Being the short skinny dumb kid from Phoenix that I was at the time, I answered yes. About $30 into the trip (I wasn't so dumb I couldn't figure out how to read a cab meter) and no place near Brooklyn, it dawned on me that I was getting ripped off.

My driver, whose name coincidentally was Xrhdtpzychntp, pretended not to have a clue where Brooklyn was, let alone Pratt. He proceeded to drive in circles around Manhattan. I saw Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the Upper East Side, Broadway, Washington Square, Wall Street, Battery Park, the Statue of Liberty, the WTC towers, South Street Seaport and, finally, just as the sun was starting to set on a clear blue winter sky in January, the Brooklyn Bridge. I raised a feeble argument about my new friend Xrhdtpzychntp's sense of direction at least twice, which of course he ignored. The entire ride cost me $100.

It was the best $100 I ever spent.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Is this just blogger being pissy, or what? Totally freaked me out seeing your blog like this!