Everyone in New York has cool shoes, and almost everyone has a dog. Those might be my two strongest impressions after spending four days at and around NYU this week.
Traveling in flat-out sucked. My flight to Philadelphia was uncomfortably bumpy, but tolerable. On the other hand, my flight to LaGuardia was the absolute worst flight I’ve ever been on in my life, surpassing only my last flight to LGA in terms of suckitude. This flight had insane turbulence, a screaming baby, overhead bins popping open, and, just for fun, a puker. We had to circle the city maybe twice before we could land, since the runways were very busy, and during that time the plane bounced and shimmied so hard that everyone was sick and freaking out – but silently, so as the poor guy in the front row started throwing up, his retching was the only sound on the plane. It was a bad scene.
After that, getting to campus was fine, and the time I spent in the city was awesome. I had some kickass food, including a three-mushroom risotto at Risotteria, and the outstanding paella valenciana at Tio Pepe. We went to the Mets-Phillies game on Tuesday and drank $6 beer and froze our asses off in the stands, until finally everyone else punked out at the top of the 8th and decided to leave. I was kind of mad that we missed the next eight billion innings (it went to 15? 16? something like that), but we had fun while we were there. We were big fat tourists on Monday and took the Staten Island Ferry over so we could see the Statue of Liberty, which was very cool.
All in all, though I was pretty booked with work stuff during the day, I got some time to wander around and see and do some very cool things, and I have to say that I grew pretty fond of the city I’ve never been in a hurry to visit.
Coming home was another drama entirely.
I had a flight out of LGA at 4:50 yesterday that would connect in Charlotte and put me in Roanoke around 9 at night. I’d shared a cab with some people who had an earlier flight out and hoped to get on an earlier flight out myself, especially since Sammi’s birthday was yesterday. The ticket agent was awesome, and put me on a direct flight that would leave at 2 – and the change fee was only $16.
At 1:25 they cancelled the flight “for maintenance reasons.” They asked us to come to gate 6 to rebook.
Just after the guy in front of me in line was rebooked, the gate agent at 6 told me she couldn’t help me and got on the speaker and told everyone to go to 4, 5, 7, or 8 to be rebooked. We hauled ass to 7. The agent at 7 said she was “too busy” to help us. We went to 8. Same thing. We went to 4, and when that agent tried to pass us off we kind of had a mutiny and threw fits until she very grudgingly started to rebook us.
By then, all of the afternoon flights (including my original flight) were full, and the soonest they could get us out was on a direct flight at 8:50 pm. So I got to hang out at the US Airways terminal at LaGuardia from 11:15 in the morning until about 9:30 at night, when the plane actually left the runway (late, of course). I had some company, as another person from my conference got stranded too, so that was nice. And I did get a meal voucher (and used every dollar of it on beer) and a travel voucher for $100 off a future flight. I feel certain that I could have sweet-talked the agent into a full round-trip compensation if I hadn’t had a shouty and complainy woman throwing fits behind me.
So, yeah. Now I’m home and tired and all my laundry is dirty, but I had a really good time. And I’m off work until Tuesday, so that’s nice.
And thanks for your book suggestions. For the record, I read Dan Chaon’s You Remind Me of Me in the airport and really enjoyed it, and due to my long delay I was also able to get started on Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.