With a sense of freedom that a day without commitments can bring, I set out to do a number of errands in Brooklyn and Manhattan last Wednesday. Off I went to Atlas Bank on Fifth Avenue (21st St.) to make a deposit, planning to take the F train at the Bartel Pritchard Square (15th Street) station into Manhattan. It is rare that I depart from this station, and thus I am not familiar with its layout!
I swiped my metro card. Don’t know where my conscious mind went (to Sedona?). Before I knew it. Before I could say Abracadabra…I had EXITED the ‘paid for the train’ area. I realized this quickly as I surveyed what looked like a maze of steel gates which prevented me from descending the stairs to take the train. I swiped my metro card once again to get back in. JUST USED appeared on the turnstile prompt. I swiped at several different turnstiles. I was locked out. What is a spiritual traveler to do? Luckily I had time to spare. Trains came in…and left without me.
I spied an intercom for ‘lost travelers’ like me and pressed the button. (I’ve lived most of my life in NYC, and many years in Brooklyn.) After the sounds of digital dialing projected from the wall (loud enough to reach Australia), a crackling disembodied voice could be heard. If I could find the person in the booth, they would help me override the 18 — minute hold on further traveling and send me off. I’d be on my way. Now, I am not kidding. I climbed upstairs to ground level at the Square where there are no less than 4 entrances. I asked 2 people if they knew where the MAIN entrance with the real person resides. No one was sure. Well, I got plenty of gym-like exercise without a stair master. Up and down I went, and it finally occurred to me that I had 2, simple, regular, very desirable (even golden) $2.50 per ride metro cards. I prayed that one of them had enough money on it. The first swipe brought up ‘insufficient fare.’ I could always have a cup of tea to wait out the remainder of the 18 — minute hold on my travel. This nurturing thought was a saving grace as I swiped the second, simple, metro plastic. “2.50” registered, and I was in like Flynn. Whew!!! Off to Canal Street and Design Within Reach (DWR) to look at some really cool flatware I had salivated over. 711 Canal Street here I come. Easily accessed from the East Broadway stop, I made my on Canal when I noticed that the numbers – 40, 50, etc., were very low and that 711 was quite far from where I was. The store catalog was in my purse, and so I called the 1.800 number to get the lowdown. OMG! 711 Canal was located in Stamford, Connecticut, not Manhattan. I internally giggled at myself to realize the colossal error. With my NYC myopia, I never looked past 711 Canal to see the out of state address. Now, at lunch time, Canal Street was bustling with people, and I didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself. Had I been with a friend I would have doubled over and laughed until I cried.
I checked the DWR store locations to find one at 76 Montague Street (one of my favorite roads) in Brooklyn. What is a lost traveler like me to do? I decided to visit a jewelry shop on Bowery which runs sort of perpendicular to Canal to chill out. All was not lost. From Bowery I made my way back on Canal and embarked from the East Broadway station to Borough Hall for Montague Street and DWR…Looked at the flatware, salivating some more. The staff treated me so nicely, allowing me to take a place setting home with me (I could decide without time pressure whether I wanted to order additional settings.)
There was enough time to take the R train to Park Slope for my last errand — TD Bank on Fifth Avenue/First Street. 5:45 p.m. and I completed my last transaction of the day. (They close at 7 p.m.) I felt very satisfied. All had been accomplished. I had even gotten quite a bit of aerobics as I took the stairs in and out of train stations and walked to the shops…
At home I relaxed, feeling well-traveled and exercised for one afternoon. With compassion for myself coupled with an expanded sense of going with the flow, I turned a challenging afternoon into an adventure.
Missions accomplished…with hilarity and ease. I couldn’t help but think that Chris Rock might develop a very funny routine from this material. My saving grace was my sense of humor – don’t leave home without it.
Until next week,