Day 109 New York

We walked down the Chelsea High-Line today.  It’s an above-ground railway that’s been urban-architectured into a plant-lined walkway teeming with tourists.  It smells.  The plants, mostly looking like allergy-inducing weeds have something that seeps out a faint but persistent sweet smell that nauseates me.  Other than that it was bloody fantastic and I really liked it.

I’d bought a mixed pack of chocolates from a Hershey’s Store in Chicago to send to Aunty Ella, for her birthday.  The postage cost twice as much as the chocolates.  It took half an hour to post them too.  I lined up, was given a padded bag, told to fill it out and line up again.  I did.  I filled it out on the wrong side (coming from Australia I filled out the blank side).  Thankfully there was a roving employee who was filtering the lines, “Anybody for STAMPS or MONEY ORDERS?” she’d yell up and down the line, then move those people into a new line.  “There’s a method to my madness!” she’d explain as she politely but firmly man-handled people into new lines.  When she saw I’d gone back to the counter to fill out my parcels on the correct side she approached, “What you doing now?”  She checked I was filling it out correctly then promptly put me back to the front of the line, saving me from waiting all over again.   “He was already at the counter,” she loudly explained to everybody, so nobody would feel out of turn.  I would’ve left otherwise.  It was only a box of chocolates and I have no idea whether Australian customs will even allow it in the country.

Albert wanted to go to an M&M’s store near Times Square.  It was three levels of M&M’s merchandise. Maybe if I had an obsession with M&M’s or I was five I might’ve mustered some enthusiasm.  There was loud pop music blaring from ceiling speakers.  I resisted the urge to buy M&M’s or merchandise that crept in out of nowhere.  I had wanted to see an exhibit of sculptures made out of Lego somewhere nearby but didn’t think to suggest my preferred alternative; I’d been wandering about looking up at the buildings.

We had the best ride from the hotel to the airport.  We caught the elevator downstairs and took the 41st Street exit (the Times Square Hilton Lobby is on the 15th floor, with access points from either 41st or 42nd Streets).  The doorman that had pointed the way to the Post Office suggested we take a black car, already waiting near the hotel, rather than a yellow cab, when we asked about going to La Guardia. Was I meant to tip him?  Travelling in North America is so stressful when we’re not from a tipping culture.

Our driver was a former policeman, who’d spent twenty years in the NYPD. His son is now a police officer.  He was a talker.  We got a lot of history of New York and he answered a few questions that we had.  At some point he described the self-centredness of many drivers that wanted to park right outside the airport door, run in and kiss people then have their car right outside. I suggested that it was the exact same frustration as when you go to the baggage carousel and people go right up to the conveyor belt and stand there, blocking others from accessing their bags.  He turned around and high-fived me.  “Yeah! And they get up into the aisle when the plane lands, with their arse in your face!” he added, “I’m like ‘Man! Your arse is in my face!’.”

We broke out in laughter.

Flying “home” to Toronto this afternoon.  I hope my plants have survived.

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