Traveling for work has always sounded very appealing to me. I love traveling. Hurray, adventure! New places, new people, new food! The idea that someone would pay for me to travel so seems too good to be true. Fun fact: IT IS.
Case in point: Last week I went to New York City for the day. I took the train in the morning. Now, for some reason whenever I take the train here I expect them to be like many of the trains in Europe – clean, light, and efficient. Instead, I suffered the indignity of trying to climb up the steep steps of the train in a pencil skirt and heels, a true logistical challenge, only to arrive in a dark and dingy train compartment that smelled somewhat of port-a-potty. So much for glamour.
The journey up to New York was fine, to be sure. I eventually snagged a window seat, and enjoyed staring out the windows at the dreary cold industrial landscape of the northeast. Even after a few years, I still find the differences between the West Coast and East Coast striking. In fact, at moments I feel like these East Coast beltway communities have more in common with some parts of Central Europe than the West Coast. Both can have the same gray skies and gray earth, flat, featureless landscape, and crumbling brick buildings. I miss Oregon, where the seasons only bring varying shades of green, and California, which is always painted in gold.
When I finally arrived in New York City, I hopped in a cab. I’d only been to New York twice before, and on my own dime, so this was the first time I took a taxi instead of the subway. Me, in a real New York city taxicab, wearing a suit, on my way to the Upper East Side for a meeting. Gah! Now this is glamour! I felt like someone in a movie, watching the world go by from the inside of a cab while dressed in my swankiest duds.
To be honest, my real plan was to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art before my meeting, since in theory I had enough time and my meeting was very nearby. But I under-estimated the amount of time it would take to get from Penn Station to the Met, so no sooner had I gone inside did I turn around and head back outside to scrounge for lunch. Shortly after that did I calculate that I didn’t have time for LUNCH, forget the Met! I swiftly dashed into a take-away shop, gulped down half a small coffee with milk and half a granola bar, and went to my meeting.
The meeting went well. When I was finished, though, I was ready to fall over from hunger and had a headache. I made the poor decision to trust the recommendation of the receptionist and went to a drastically overpriced Italian restaurant nearby. By the time I had blown my $25 dinner per diam on a lackluster meal, I was still hungry! Such a bummer – I was hoping to eat something special, not some lousy overpriced Crostini. But no matter. To Penn Station!
It was just my luck that it was raining, I was trying to go downtown during rush hour, AND there was a game in Madison Square Garden, which sits atop Penn Station. As I slowly shuffled downtown in my taxi, I realized three things: A) I should have braved the subway, no matter how baffling it may be, B) I should have gone downtown right away and eaten dinner at Penn Station, which would have been just as overpriced and unappealing, and C) there was an incredibly slim chance of me making my train. Would my firm reimburse me for buying a new train ticket because I was foolish and hadn’t timed my trip correctly? I wasn’t looking forward to finding out. My headache worsened by the moment.
As we approached Penn Station, I prepared to make a dash for it. If my train was one time, I would miss it. But if it was running even a handful of minutes late, I had a minuscule chance of making it. As we approached, I slipped on my flats and shoved my heels into my bag, hiked up my pencil skirt, and gathered my things. As soon as we were close enough, I bolted out of that cab like a bat out of hell.
I hurtled down the staircase into Penn Station and then sprinted through the hall, dodging around the hoards as I went. Even as I frantically ran forward, it struck me that my feet felt amazing having been liberated from my high heels, and that this, too, felt like a movie scene.
The cinematic nature of my trip was reinforced when I jolted to a stop in front of the departures board and saw that my train was running over an hour late. All that stress was for nothing, but at least I would not be missing my train.
I bought some Advil for my headache and some cheesecake for my hunger. It was a long train ride home. My bed never seemed so far, but oh, how cozy it was when I finally crawled under my covers to go to sleep!
I was so busy I didn’t even have time to snap a single photo with my phone, but I do have some old NYC photos, from the Spring of 2015: