Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

...not necessarily in that order.

First, to catch up, yesterday I had class all day, then a conference call with my team all evening, so I just ran across the street to a little Italian place and back to my hotel room--no exploring.

This morning, as I was gathering my things to go downstairs to the training, I somehow noticed I was missing the credit card I'd used to pay for dinner last night.  I googled the place, and they don't open until 11:30, so I wouldn't know whether they still had it or not for a while, so I tried to forget about it and focus on the training, though I did find myself looking up my bank balance to see whether I could make it the rest of the trip (and until pay day) on my cash balance (maybe, but barely, and I wouldn't be able to see any more shows).  On a bathroom break sometime after 10:00, I tried calling to see if they were answering the phone yet, and they did pick up, and they did have my credit card.  Woo!  So on our lunch break, I went there and got my card.

Then I went to a cafe next door to grab lunch, and I think I found the place I'll be eating all of my future meals.  90% of their menu is vegetarian, and SO many good flavors!  It's just sandwiches and salads, but I think there are like 10 more things on the menu I want to try.  We'll see...

More training in the afternoon, blah blah blah.  Except I got an e-mail about a survey we're currently fielding right now, and I asked to change the wording on a question because when Nathan took the survey, he was a little confused by the existing wording, and now we suspect that wording might be making it harder to find people who qualify for our survey.  Crap.  My boss doesn't blame me, and says IF that's even why, it's still something that she and the vendor, as the more experienced people in this equation, could have (and should have?) vetoed the change, so she doesn't blame me at all.

Anyway, the training ended, and I went back to my room to regroup and plan my evening.  I'd already researched, and Avenue Q isn't playing on Tuesdays, and Book of Mormon starts at 7, therefore the lottery is at 5, and my training ends at 5, so I can't make it up there for the lottery until Friday, when the show is at 8 and the lottery is at 6.  Those are the two shows I want to focus on, so I decided to do something else.  I want to do The Central Park area and the south end of Manhattan, so I decided to do the south end of Manhattan tonight.

I decided to go to Brooklyn Bridge first, and walk at least partway across it, taking pictures in the daylight, then check out the World Trade Center site and possibly the Statue of Liberty.  I took the subway down to the Brooklyn Bridge (wow, the express trains are awesome when they make sense--only one stop between here and there).  I followed signs toward the bridge, and sure enough, there was the bridge--easy peasy.  I walked out onto it.  The sun was pretty bright, reflecting off all different buildings.  It occurred to me that I could just not bother with sunglasses, which worked well enough when on the city streets, but I decided to put them on.  I should have swapped my regular glasses into the glasses case, but I figured I'd be switching back soon, and just hooked my normal glasses on the front of my shirt, and put the glasses case back in my bag, empty.  I walked along the bridge, taking pictures as I went, and as I headed toward the rail to get a more unobstructed picture, and lifted my camera, the strap caught on my glasses, and I wondered what was happening just as my glasses fell through the railing and onto the roadway below.

My glasses, laying on the pavement just below the yellow line, slightly left of center.
 At this part of the bridge, the pedestrian walkway is raised about 10 feet above and in between the two directions of car travel.  The yellow line of the road coming from Brooklyn was about 2 inches from the center divider, and my glasses were sitting in that very narrow space.  There was also no shoulder on the other side of the road, making it impossible to actually go fetch my glasses.  I hemmed and hawed and cursed.  I actually stood there a while, incredulous.  Then I realized I was standing next to a call box, and rather than use it, I googled the non-emergency number for the police in Manhattan, and it said to call 311.  I did, and there was a whole phone tree to go through, and I finally had to just press zero for the operator.  She didn't seem to believe my story at first, but clarified it, put me on hold for a bit, then said that I would need to talk to the local precinct, and she needed my nearest cross-street.  I explained again that I was on the Manhattan end of the Brooklyn Bridge, blah blah blah, but that wasn't good enough.  I named the street names I could see on the signs for traffic arriving in Manhattan from Brooklyn, but she said she still couldn't locate me in the computer.  Surely she had better access to a map than I did, since I was on my phone, and she had a computer,  but I remembered I had a paper map in my bag, pulled it out, and gave her an intersection.  She transferred me to the 54th precinct.

I explained what happened to the operator/dispatcher there, and she had the temerity to LAUGH at me.  Then she put me on hold, came back after a bit, and made me explain it again (probably for a friend of hers).  She clarified what I was saying, and asked what I expected them to do.  I forgot the first and simplest option, having a long reachy-thingie from the pedestrian walkway where I was, but said that maybe if someone--a police officer, city employee, someone with lights on their vehicle--was coming back from Brooklyn, maybe they could be in the left lane, put their lights on, slow to a stop, get out and get my glasses without getting hit thanks to the lights and the vehicle blocking the lane, and I'd meet them wherever to get them back.  I didn't even get all the way through that explanation when she laughed and put me on hold again.  For 25 minutes.  She'd come back every 10 minutes or so, and ask me to continue holding.  Eventually she came back on the line and dropped the call.  I have no idea whether it was purposeful or not.  Meanwhile, I'd been sitting there on the bridge, wasting time, for about half an hour.  I decided to make the most of the sunset, and walked to the first tower of the bridge and took some pictures.

I think I took this picture just after dropping my glasses, after talking to the dispatcher

When the call dropped, I decided to check out optometrists in the area.  I'm due for a visit, and maybe Manhattan has 1-hour optometrists, and maybe they'll even take my insurance!  Or, I could get contacts--the show I'm going to tomorrow recommends them instead of glasses due to the masks they make you wear.  Anyway...there was a 1-hour optometrist nearby, but they close at 7, and it was now 7:15.  I called them to verify their hours, and they answered and confirmed they had just closed.  Oh well, I'd have to go tomorrow, and probably miss some of the conference in order not to miss the show I'd already bought tickets to.  Ugh.

But then it occurred to me, that maybe I could try fetching them from above, by MacGuyver-ing my own reachy-thingie.  Worst case, my glasses were still down there on the road, and I wasted a few bucks and less than an hour.  I figured it was worth it.  I looked up the nearest CVS (none in downtown, apparently), then Duane Reade, a ubiquitous drugstore here.  Sure enough, there were about 5 within easy walking distance.  I picked the nearest and easiest to get to, just on the other side of City Hall, right at the end of the bridge.  It was a pretty walk through the grounds of City Hall, and I found the drugstore easily.  I wandered the aisles looking for appropriate items.  I noticed the gift wrap section first, but they only had bows, not rolls of ribbons.  However, the next aisle over had various supplies including both twine and duct tape--perfect!  In case the duct tape wasn't sticky enough, I also picked up some hair clips (just like the ones back in my hotel room, ugh) and some hair bands I could use to create a mousetrap effect if I had to (hold it open with the hair tie, with a separate length of twine attached to it, and use the second piece of twine to pull the rubber band off the clip, causing it to clamp shut, hopefully around part of the glasses).  Either scenario was going to need something heavier than any of these supplies.  What would be heavy but relatively inexpensive?  I bought a bottle of Suave conditioner for $3.  I realized I would need to be able to cut the twine if I was going to make two separate pieces, and bought some cheap nail clippers.  It all cost $24.  Sheesh!  But if it worked, I'd be saving myself a few hundred bucks.

I headed back onto the bridge.  The sun was starting to go down, and the skies were really dramatic from the storm that had passed over, thankfully only dropping a few drops, so I took some pictures while I walked.  Might as well, right?  I walked back to where my glasses were, and warily peered over the railing at them.  Still intact.  I was almost hoping they were crushed to oblivion, as at least I could walk away knowing I couldn't do any more.  They were fine, which was both annoying and a HUGE relief.  Oh, and remember I'm wearing my prescription sunglasses this whole time--in the store, in the darkening dusk with storm clouds overhead.

I retired to a nearby bench to assemble my fishing gear.  I started with using the hair clip, but only as a medium to hold the inside-out duct tape.  I tied the twine to the clip, wrapped duct tape around it inside-out, and dangled it over the edge to the glasses.  It was pretty light, and the traffic would create a breeze as a car went by, then it would suck back in the opposite direction, then another breeze with the next car...  I took advantage of the breezes to have them blow the sticky tape toward the glasses, but it just wasn't heavy enough to stick to the glasses.  I pulled it back up and went back to the bench.  Time to pull out the big gun--the conditioner bottle.  I held the string and made sure it went between the layers of duct tape, with the ball end sticking out toward the top of the bottle.  I wrapped the entire bottle in duct tape, sticky side out, including covering the bottom and top of the bottle.  I went back over to where the glasses were, and they were still lying there, taunting me.  I'm the sort of person who gets into these kinds of messes quite easily.  But I'm not the kind of person that these kind of solutions EVER work for.  Ever.  But I gamely lowered the conditioner over the side, onto the glasses, and it seemed like they might have stuck.  I gingerly lifted it back up, and sure enough, the glasses came, too.  At first, it seemed like they might fall off, but I think it was just the whole operation shifting as it cleared the ground.  I carefully lifted it up.  I knew I could easily screw the whole thing up if the glasses tapped against something (or even got hit by a breeze, but there's only so much I can control) and fell off, probably getting crushed by traffic this time.

Slowly, slowly, I reeled in the conditioner, tape, and glasses at the end of the twine.  I had a breathtaking moment when it came close to knocking into the railing, but eventually they were back onto the pedestrian side of the railing, and I grabbed the glasses and dropped the ball of twine.  WOO!!!  I carefully put those glasses on and my sunglasses safely into the glasses case in my bag.  I started putting the twine, etc., into my bag, and realized they'd served their purpose and I didn't really need to lug the conditioner around the rest of my evening.  So I tossed the supplies that weren't already in my bag and headed to the benches to sit down and revel in my success (and post about it on Facebook).  A family sitting there had seen the whole thing, and the guy exclaimed how awesome it was that it worked.  I was pretty pleased with myself, and couldn't stop grinning, so it was nice that someone else saw it and appreciated the awesomeness.  Like I said, stuff like that NEVER happens to me.  The rest of the evening, I kept marveling that I was wearing my glasses, and could just have easily been having to wear my sunglasses so I could see.

Since the sun was rapidly descending, I took some more photos of the bridge, then tried to make it to the west side of the island before the sun was completely gone.  I booked it off the bridge, and headed west, jogging south whenever necessary.  Sure enough, I found myself right at the WTC.  Nothing much to see--it's been nearly 11 years since the attacks, of course, and the whole area is blocked off for the construction they're doing.  But I took some photos of the towers they're building, plus just the general downtown area (again, you'll have to wait till after I get home for my "real" photos).  I made it to the water in time to get some sunset photos of the New Jersey skyline.  :-)  Seriously, though, it was pretty.  There weren't any good Manhattan skyline photos to be had, because of the construction (the pedestrian walkway was completely blocked in with metal siding), at least not without walking all the way to Brooklyn, which I didn't want to do with the rest of the stuff on my agenda.  Anyway, got some photos of New Jersey, plus the buildings there in Manhattan...good stuff.

Some panoramas - click to view larger

I wandered south along the water, and got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.  But by now it was 9:00 p.m., and I hadn't eaten a thing since lunch, and was starting to get shaky, so I stopped and got dinner.  I didn't feel like walking any further south to see the Statue any closer.  Oh well.  If I have a few hours to kill some other day, I may go back down there and take the Staten Island ferry.  But at least I've seen her, from the air and now from the ground, so I won't feel like I missed out TOO much if I don't make it back down there.

I wandered back east and south a block or more each direction to head to the nearest subway station.  It was a nice neighborhood, expensive I'm sure, but pretty homey nonetheless.  I asked a few people directions to the subway station, and they were very nice about it.  I haven't felt unsafe here in the city yet, though until this evening, I'd mostly been in touristy areas.  This felt much more "normal," but really nice.  (It was the Rector St station on the red line, for the locals reading.)  Anyway, it was amazing how much longer the ride back north took, since it was a local train, not express.  But eventually I arrived, and was too lazy to walk back all the way from Times Square, so I transferred to an eastbound train to ride a couple of long blocks to Grand Central and then I only had a block and a half (or 2 1/2?) to walk.  The blocks here are very different from San Francisco, and I think even from Chicago, though that was a LONG time ago.  The long blocks are VERY long, and the short blocks are VERY short.  Crazy.

Anyway, made it back to my room safely, called Nathan briefly (one thing this time difference is good for!), and typed this up.  It's now after midnight, and my alarm is going off at 6:30, so I need to get to bed.  Oh, to top off the calamities of today, I also got an e-mail that due to the construction noises that have been annoying us during the training, they're changing the venue to a different hotel across town.  They'll move my reservation, so I probably have to move out tomorrow, which means packing everything up in the morning, stashing it somewhere all day, then hauling it across town tomorrow evening before that show I'm supposed to be getting to.  Ugh.  I e-mailed my boss about all the stuff I'd been through today, and she, too, had a crappy day (though not with the upsides I had). She remarked, "I hope our tomorrows are better (than we are today)," which made me laugh out loud--our company's slogan is "Better tomorrow than we are today."  :-)

I'm really excited about the show I'm going to tomorrow night.  Hopefully I'll feel up for blogging about it tomorrow night.


  1. WOW! What an adventure!

  2. Your glasses retrieval was indeed awe-inspiring. The conditioner was a good touch. I'm glad you managed to snag them. Did you have any problems getting duct tape residue off the lenses?