Saturday, December 19, 2009

Santa Grabs a Cab

I've been traveling this week, up to New York City. My company flew me to their headquarters in New Jersey, right across the Hudson river from New York, which is where the company that owns my company is located.

As soon as I told my wife I would be leaving, she came down with a bad cold, and I caught it. As I was sniffling and snuffling and getting ready to leave, I lifted my suitcase to put it in the trunk and something went "sproing" in my back. By the time I arrived, I felt pretty miserable.

My company uses a car service to transport vistors from the airport, so I was met by a guy named Rageesh, holding a piece of paper with my name on it.


That was a first for me. Rageesh drove me to my hotel, in a big, cushy Lincoln Town Car. The car was a non-smoking car, which Rageesh had enforced by duct-taping the ashtrays closed.

The hotel was excellent, right on the river with spectacular views of lower Manhattan.


Unfortunately, the Goldman Sachs building obscures my view of the Statue of Liberty.


One of the reasons I haven’t written about the trip until now is because the hotel charges $10 a day for Internet service. Posted on the door of my room is a little sign that reads, “The maximum rate for this room is $873 per day.” I was offended that they felt the need to squeeze out that last little drop of blood, and I refused to pay the $10.

I didn't have to show up in the office until the next morning, so I took the PATH train into Manhattan, which involved a ride on the longest escalator I've ever seen. The thing gave me a case of vertigo.


As the train approaches the World Trade Center site, you can get a glimpse of the vast, complex subterranean work being done for the new building. Above ground, the equally huge metal skeleton of the new building has begun to rise above street level. Work goes on around the clock.


One place I've been curious to see is Amsterdam Billiards. It's an upscale poolhall owned by the comedian David Brenner. It used to be located on the Upper West Side, but the owners of the building forced them to move so they could tear down the building and construct luxury condominiums. Amsterdam Billiards moved to the East Village, and while it's large, well-appointed and comfortable, it now attracts a college student crowd, rather than an Upper West Side after-theater crowd.


Before long, wandering around lower Manhattan, I encountered something you don't see much in Florida: stairs. Between my cold, my sore back and my aching arthritic knees, I wasn't hustling around like the throngs of heavily-caffienated New Yorkers. So I decided to head back to the hotel and get some rest. On my way, I saw Santa Claus, holding his toy bag, standing at the curb flagging a cab. It must have been Rudolph’s night off.

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