Thursday, September 4, 2008

New York City!





New York City!

I had wanted to take a vacay to New York City since, well, like forever. Usually, time, distance and money prohibited DH and I from taking on a Big Apple Adventure. However, in the Fall of 2004, Adrian was offered an opportunity to be part of a marketing team for Fashion Week in New York City, so we jumped at the chance to go and be her chaperones.

After a lot of confusion on her school's part as to when, exactly, Fashion Week was being held (kind of an important thing to know, doncha think?) and us, based on that mis-information, booking our flights and hotel reservations FOR THE WRONG WEEK, we finally arrived in the Big Apple on the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, 2004. We flew into LaGuardia and faced a cold, rainy Thanksgiving Day....missed seeing the Macy's parade by a long shot.

We booked our hotel, again, based on her school's recommendation, at a hotel that, in this blog, shall remain nameless. Let's just say it was NOT a chain hotel, and was located in mid-town Manhattan. We arrive and are ushered into the lobby. Not bad. It's all decorated for Christmas, with glowing lights and Christmas trees and the sounds of Christmas music everywhere. Being the world's biggest sucker for anything holiday-ish, I was impressed. But now here's where the fun begins:

We booked what we thought was a two-room suite; one for us, one for Adrian. This hotel did not have two room suites. We then asked for a room with two separate beds; two separate queen beds, preferably. The clerk said that they did not have any available. He advised that the only room with a queen bed was a single, with only one bed. I replied that that wouldn't work, as there are three of us . He asked if she couldn't just sleep in the bed with us. I pointed to my teenager, 5'7", wearing a C-cup bra and asked, "if you were her, would you want to sleep in the same bed with us?" Nuff said. Back to the room dilemma. He said we could have a room with two single beds, since we wanted to sleep separately. Well, that would prove to be a tight squeeze for hubby and myself, but we'd done it before, so perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. He sent us up to a room, and no bull here, the room was so small, you had to walk sideways, not face front like a NORMAL HUMAN BEING, but sideways, like a CRAB, to get to the bed and get in. And the distance from the one tiny window in the room outwards was less than 18 inches to the building next door. It looked straight down over an alley way, where visions of dead bodies in alleyways from old episodes of Law & Order flashed through my head. No way were we staying here.

Back down to the lobby, where I informed the clerk that no way would I even put my three cats in that room, much less the three of us, especially when we had paid for a queen double room. After hassling and negotiating and informing me that with the holidays and a convention in town, and that our chances of finding a room like we wanted in another hotel in New York, without paying as much for the room as my husband did for his first car, were about as likely as monkeys flying out of my butt. The only thing we could come up with was putting us on a queen bed in a single room, and rolling in a foldaway, single bed for Adrian. Which is exactly what we did.

So we're shown to our room. Not too bad....bed, dresser, lamp (minus the shade), not as roach motel-y as it could have been, but far below what I expected with the price we were paying, but then again, it was New York City at Thanksgiving. So we began to unpack.

DH, of course, being true to his gender, decides the first thing that needs to be done is to turn on the television. So he picks up the remote, and parks his butt on the bed. Naturally, the remote doesn't work. Button, button, push, push. The TV won't come on. We decide it surely must be the batteries, so we call down to the front desk. They say they'll send someone up, which they did, but without any batteries. So he takes the remote with him, and says he'll go downstairs to get new batteries and bring it right back up. Fine and dandy. Now, it's a sad day when I have to admit that we, as a society, and my husband, in particular, are so lazy and rendered so immobile by all our wireless devices, that it takes half an hour for him to decide that HEY!....I'll try to turn on the television ON THE TELEVISIONS ITSELF!.....because our remote has apparently been kidnapped and is being held hostage by the desk clerk.

So hubby goes to the television set, bends down with glasses perched on the end of his nose to see which is the POWER button, and when he find the right button and pushes it, the entire button panel on the bottom of the television, falls INSIDE the unit of the television set. You know what I'm talking about...the channel up and down buttons, the volume up and down buttons, and the power on and off buttons. That whole thin, narrow little unit has now fallen backwards inside of the television set. And it was a very narrow space to fall into. Hubby couldn't reach inside with his hands, so Adrian and I both tried, having much smaller, thinner hands, but neither of us could reach it either. So this has just really set hubby's vacation in New York City off on the WRONG foot.

Eventually, much later that night, they deliver us another television, as well as a working remote. So hubby's entertainment crises, i.e., not having a television, in the ENTERTAINMENT CAPITAL of the United States, i.e., New York City, (you know, Broadway, Off-Broadway, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.) is resolved. He can proceed with the evening. Darkness begins to fall upon our own little corner of midtown, so we turn on the large, brass lamp on the dresser in our room. We proceed with unpacking and planning out the next day's adventures. Finally, it's time to turn in....but the lamp, which was missing it's shade, WON'T TURN OFF! It's a pretty bright lamp, too, but it won't go off. We tried to unplug the lamp from the outlet, but it's plugged in to a socket that is behind the dresser, a very large, very heavy, very immobile dresser. So we can't unplug that way. We tried to unscrew the bulb, but IT WON'T UNSCREW! It literally won't unscrew from the socket....each of us tried. All three of us tried to move the dresser....we all tried to turn it off at the switch. This stupid lamp is possessed....the lamp that won't turn off! We called maintenance, for the second time now this evening. It was late, however, and they said someone might not be there until morning. Until morning, yes folks, that's what they said. I insisted that surely they could find someone to come get this ridiculous lamp out of our room, and they promised they would try. In the meantime, we had to live with this ridiculously glowing, 5000 watt bulbed lamp. So we set it down off of the dresser and pulled the cord on it as far as it would go, just barely long enough to be able to put the lamp in the closet and shut the door. There. We can finally sleep at last.

The next day, and the next 10 days after that, all brought their own fresh, unique stories of the vacation from hell. First thing the next morning, upon awaking, we pulled up the tacky vinyl window shade over the only window in our room, a large, 5 foot tall window looking right out over the front of the hotel, Madison Square Garden, and a good portion of mid-town Manhattan. Good morning, New York City! We all proceed to take showers, where the water, while piping hot, was also somewhat brown-ish in color, and the water pressure coming out of the shower head was like needles: pounding and sharp and searing enough to take your skin off. I'm not kidding. It felt like a million tiny little knives coming out of that shower head, all aimed right at the poor soul standing in the tub. There was no changing or switching of the knobs...it was not one of those multi positioned, variable WaterPic shower heads. This was your standard 1960s version, one-shot only shower head, that seared and pounded the flesh and make you feel like you had a shark mauling instead of a shower.

Someone arrived the next morning to take away the ever-glow lamp, but neglected to bring us a new one. We explained that in spite of our appreciation of them removing that blinding device from our room, we would, however, like another lamp, one preferably that gives us the option of OFF or ON. We were promised that we would have one by that evening. I decided to let that slide, since we planned on being gone from the room all day, but if we didn't have a lamp in our room but the time we got back to it, there would be trouble. And yes, when we returned to the room that evening from our eventful day of sightseeing in the Big Apple, there was a lamp. A teeny, tiny, little lamp that looked for suited for a lamp to be used in a baby nursery....and had a bulb in it to suit. Well, we were beginning at this point to understand the meaning of the phrase "you get what you pay for", especially when it comes to hotels in New York City. We decided to let this, too, slide, as we figured the light from the television would add some to the room. One does, however, like to close the blinds at the end of an evening, especially in a city as busy and bustling as New York. One does not, however, get that privilege at this particular hotel, not for the price we were paying. We could not pull the blinds down. Did not, would not, could not get those blinds down. Hubby ended up hopping up on the furnace to stand up and pull the blinds down, and when he did, the whole thing came crashing down on his head. To make a long story short, we spent the rest of our stay in Manhattan with our view of Madison Square Garden WIDE OPEN. We never did get another window shade, or get the old one repaired.

A few days went by without any further disasters in our hotel room. We were beginning to enjoy our stay in New York City. We saw a couple of Broadway shows (Whoopi Goldberg, Rent, Momma Mia); visited Central Park; visited NBC studios and the Saturday Night Live theater; saw a taping of the Today show; spent a lot of time in Times Square; visited the Empire State Building; Trump Towers; Ground Zero; skated at Rockerfeller Center and attending the tree lighting ceremony; backstage tour of Madison Square Garden and the New York teams that call it home; Statue of Liberty; Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes; toured all of Manhattan on a freezing cold tour bus; rode the subway down to Brooklyn....all a lot of terrific things. What began to occur, however, was the result of hubby's lack of attention to packing details. He had been on prescription medication for depression since his daughter had died earlier that year, but had forgotten to pack them for this trip. So he was having withdrawal symptoms. He didn't say much about it at first, until it got really bad a few days before we headed home. I cannot even imagine feeling this way, but what he described what the feeling on walking around on big, giant, wet, squishy sponges. He felt like he was sort of bouncing....like the ground beneath him was just a giant sponge and he would sink into it with each step down, and bounce back up out of it with each step up. Sounds like a 1960's flashback to me. At first he found the sensation rather interesting, and just went with it. But after a few days of it, it was proving to be more difficult to live with than he anticipated.

With three hot tempers like us roaming the harsh streets of NYC, it's amazing to report that we only had one altercation with the public at large while we were there. We were souvenir shopping in some random store near our hotel. At one point, the three of us got separated, just everyone sort of browsing and following whatever caught our eyes. I met up with Adrian, and she asked where Pete was. I looked up and spotted him, pointed him out to Adrian and said, "there he is". Standing next to hubby was what looked like a normal, average, reasonable human being. Looks can be deceiving. This nut job got mad and shouted at me, "whadda you want? What's your problem? I didn't do nothin' to you! Stop messing with me! You got a problem with me? You wanna take it up with me?" And my big mouth opened up (completely on it's own, mind you, I had nothing to do with it) and started shouting back, "I don't have a problem with you! What's your problem with me?" His escalating reply, "You were pointing at me and saying 'there he is'! I didn't do nothin' to you....you leave me alone! You tryin' to get me in trouble, you just better quit pointing at me!" I stupidly replied, "I wasn't pointing at you....I was pointing at my husband! You better leave me alone and quit hollerin' at me!" I mean, I'm standing in a souvenir shop off a back alley in mid-town Manhattan and arguing with a complete stranger, who is apparently bat-bleep-crazy, and for all I know, is carrying a semi-automatic or a butcher knife! Talk about stupid! Luckily, hubby rushed over to me at this point and was physically pulling me back and away from the encounter, whispering and talking to me, trying to sooth me like you would...well, a crazy person, telling me, "just be quiet, leave him alone". And my childish reply, "well, he started it!" Hubby, in full kid-glove mode now, is trying to reason with me, saying, "just let it be....it's not worth fighting over....he's not right...he could be dangerous....just DROP IT!" Well, I had taken a deep breath by that point, and my sanity had returned, so I did what hubby advised and just shut up and walked away. What the hell had gotten into me? I have watched enough Law & Order and CSI to know better. But, like a child, I kept my eye on the man, who trailed us through the store giving all of us the fish eye. Dorothy, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!

So towards the end of our stay in Manhattan, and back at our lovely hotel, Adrian made the mistake of taking a brown-water-needle shower one morning. She was in the shower, curtain closed, hubby and I in the room watching the morning news and gazing out our shade-less window, when we heard a tremendous crash and the sound of glass breaking come from the bathroom. We bolted for the door, fearing awful things had happened to Adrian, but she was still standing in the shower, with the curtain clutched around her, asking the same question as we were: "What on earth happened?"

The answer: the 4-foot long bathroom light fixture had fallen to the floor, crashing and shattering into a million pieces. Just. Like. That. No warning, no door slam, nothing thrown or fallen onto it. Just crash to the floor, scaring the heebie-jeebies out of us. We call the front desk, and someone eventually came and picked up the bigger pieces of the broken fixture, but then said he would need to go get a broom and dust pan to get the rest of the mess cleaned up. Needless by now to say, we eventually left with room at the end of our stay, with never having the little pieces picked up, nor having the light fixture replaced. Just the bare bulbs hanging from the wall. So from that point on, we never entered the bathroom without shoes on our feet (a little hard to do when you need to take a shower, non?).

On our last and final evening in Manhattan, we didn't bother to check (not that we should have had to, but we also knew this hotel very well by now) to see if we had fresh towels in the bathroom. We did not (oh, no, you say, what a shock)! The next morning, Adrian showered first, which is when we noticed no towels. Just washcloths. No hand towels, no bath towels. The maid staff had taken our used towels from the day before when they serviced the room, just had not left fresh ones in their place. So while Adrian was showering, I call downstairs to drop a hint or 500 that WE NEED TOWELS in our room. About half an hour goes by, a knock on the door. The fella standing there is holding about 5 rolls of toilet paper in his arms. "Yes?" I ask upon opening the door. "These are for you", comes his reply. "We didn't order toilet paper", I tell him, "we need towels". "Oh, yes, I know....but we are out of towels, we have no more towels, so I brought you this instead".

I was speechless at this point, as I'm sure you would be, too. Thank God it was our last morning there. We beat it out of there and high tailed it home. We enjoyed our time in New York. We really did. We had a blast seeing everything, do everything, being a part of one the most exciting cities in the world. And we do plan to go back again someday...but you can bet we'll be forking over extra money on our hotel room next time, for those, you know, luxury items...clean water, window shades, working lamps...and towels.

1 comment:

Karen L. said...

Oh my you got me laughing with that one!! I lived in Long Island for awhile when I was a kid so I have NO interest in taking a New York vacation. I have heard other stories and how you had better go prepared to pay allot for the accomodations. Sounds like you all took it in stride and had fun!