Monday, August 17, 2009

Driving Ms. Jaime - Frumpy's Adventures in the Big Apple

Sunday, August 16 dawned hot and sunny, and Frumpy, the minivan, was stuffed to the gills with carefully selected and packed items for Jaime's new adventures at Teacher's College in the coming year. By 9 am, Jaime had said goodbye to the dogs, her dad and sister, and Jim and we set off, le TomTom guiding the way.

By noon, our first hurdle had been overcome - we had successfully executed a key exchange at the train station in New Canaan, CT in the blistering (but thankfully dry) 90 degree heat. Encouraged, we began what we thought would be a short leg from New Canaan to Manhattan. Well, short as the crow flies, anyway! Once over the state line, we were achieving approximately 40 mpm - minutes per mile! Patience, which Haddens and their offspring know well, is a highly overrated virtue - but necessary in this case. The heinous delay turned out to be a truck and car simultaneously blocking BOTH lanes for access to the George Washington bridge. Gaah. Looking at the equally slow moving traffic on the other side of 95, I declared that I wasn't taking THAT route home.

Two hours later, we arrived at 940 Amsterdam Avenue - to encounter our NEXT hurdle - no parking spaces! I wedged poor Frumpy illegally behind a construction dumpster and a smidge in front of a fire hydrant. The good thing about this was there was space behind the hydrant to open the hatch to the rear of the minivan - the bad thing was either Jaime or I needed to stay with the car and her stuff! (No less than three passerbys offered to take some of Jaime's stuff off our hands!) Jaime made a few trips carrying items up to the third floor walk-up while I moved as much stuff out of the car as possible and made a trip up myself to scope out the new digs until our savior Dave arrived (with a bagel for Jaime!) to help carry the big pieces up.

Jaime's new apartment is well-located, close to Columbia and Morningside Park, with many restaurants and a laundromat on her short block. Her room is large, with two bright windows, and the armoire and dresser purchased from the previous tenant were actually big enough to hold Jaime's clothing! She does have a few extra unwanted roommates - the bane of NYC, la cucaracha!

Once the sidewalk was clear and I had been reinvigorated by some cold seltzer from the deli across the street, Frumpy, le Tom Tom and I began the trip back to Boston. Le Tom Tom done me wrong - and steered me right back into the 40 mpm traffic - apparently le Tom Tom believes that the GW bridge is the ONLY way out of Manhattan. Still, looking at the stall and crawl traffic on the other possible routes made me realize I should just keep inching along like an escargot. Once I hit the state line to Connecticut, the driving was easy.

UNTIL I hit the NEXT hurdle. On the Mass turnpike, we have "Fast Lane" which allows travellers to get a transponder so they don't have to stop at the toll booth - they just drive through specially designated lanes. I'd often wondered (aloud) why many of the toll booths were arranged with the fast lanes on the right with the cash lanes on the left, because the cash drivers stopped while the fast lane drivers don't. The BIG KAHUNA of tollbooths on the Mass Pike is the Newton/128 tollbooth - and last time I was on the Mass Pike in bound it had the fast lanes on the right and the cash lanes on the left. Naturally, I carefully arranged to be in the left lanes as I approached the toll booths in heavy traffic. Then I noticed the signs indicating that they had reversed the lanes. It was total chaos - cars were driving sideways, people begging, pleading and cursing. Since I noticed early on, I was able to slip Frumpy in front of a very large truck in one of the cash lanes. Then, there was nothing to do but wait, and wait, and wait. It took over an hour to get through the toll! I made the best of it, and paid the toll for the trucker behind me. The toll collector was TOTALLY bewildered! Made my night, anyway. I got home to a happy husband, dog and cats around 9pm - 12 hours!

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