So here I was in the Big Apple all alone. As I was going through airport immigration my passport would not do the usual bleep and find traveller. Suddenly I had attention. Could I be a fugitive? Oh no, why me?
“Your unusual Ma’am” said the immigration officer.
“Yes, it’s been said” I answered politely and squashing the urge to give a witty retort incase they chucked me out or worse still saw fit to do an exploratory body examination. After a series of photos, fingerprints, computer searches and inquisitive glances at my face they let me in. Phew!
Now, I had seen fit in my wisdom to book a hotel on the outskirts of the city in order to have a more fulfilling experience and put myself out of my comfort zone. I was supposed to be staying in a Marriott hotel in a place called White Plains and had no idea of how to get there as I had been too busy deciding on the clothes I was taking rather than finding routes. So off I trotted to the airport information desk to ask how I would get to my destination.
“White Plains? Why you stayin’ there Lady?! That’s like another state away and it’s gonna take you an hour and a half to get there by a special north metro train. And there ain’t nothin‘ to do there, you gonna be out the way of everything!”
Close to tears was an understatement. Why do I do these stupid things to myself? I decided I needed to re locate back into the city and hoped I’d be able to ring the hotel I was booked into and change it for a Marriott in Manhattan. Simple right? Wrong. My mobile phone refused to acknowledge the customer services freephone number located on my hotel reservation print out. The Information lady told me to use the pay phones on the back wall as the number was free and they would connect. The first pay phone started to speak only Spanish to me. Went to next phone. That phone did not have a ringtone. Third time lucky the next phone got me through. I explained my dilemma to the man on the other end who then had to transfer me to someone else as my request was complicated. I was transferred to a lady who all of a sudden had the inability to hear me and hung up. By this point I had exhausted every available phone and the next load of travellers from the BA flight after mine had started to arrive. I decided I had no choice but to wait for the Hotel information lady to arrive for her shift in an hour so went and had a ubiquitous Starbucks. When she arrived the lady I’d spoken to previously explained my problem.
” White Plains? No way!”
She said I would have to deal with my original hotel directly as she would not be able to assist me as her job was purely new bookings. I explained how I had no viable means of contacting them since NO PHONES WORKED. Sensing my frustration and hysteria she allowed me to use her desk phone which was apparently highly inappropriate and could get her ass kicked. I thanked her profusely. After several phone calls I managed to cancel the other hotel reservation but I’m uncertain as to whether or not I will still have to pay for it. Hmmm what are the odds…
I then asked the hotel lady to find me alternative accommodation within a good budget that was right in the middle of Manhattan. I got a reservation at a three star hotel called ‘The Milford Plaza’ which is on 8th and the corner of 43rd and 44th whatever that means. I paid her $10 for the privilege and thanked her for saving my life. Got into a yellow cab two hours after landing and asked him to take me to my hotel. Cabbie started up conversation and I had to explain that there was something wrong with my ears as I was tone deaf in one and had whirring noises in the other from flying and no doubt a level of stress! I think he took this as I didn’t want to chat as he never spoke to me again. Driving through New York was great, seeing all the big trucks and being driven like I was in a rally was all very exciting. Arrived at the hotel and the cab driver opened the door.
“How much do I owe you” I asked
” $51 plus TIP” he bellowed
” Yes I know” I said laughing ” Why are you saying that because I’m English?”
“YES” he chuckled.
I gave him $60 and made my way into the Milford Plaza.