Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Transit Strike Fallout

As you know, dear readers, I live in NYC, so you might imagine that I, along with several million other New Yorkers, have been impacted by the public transit strike. But throughout the night, I was in denial that this strike would actually occur; after all, I could still hear the elevated trains roaring through the darkness as late as two in the morning. Early this morning, I awoke to an ominous silence, a stillness that was formally confirmed when the awful truth was announced on the radio; transit strike! I briefly thought about investing the day in restoring order to my neglected apartment while teaching my birds to say a few foul words. But, being the wanderer that I am, that thought was too much to bear. Instead, I decided that I had to get out, even if I did have to walk eight million miles each way in the freezing weather to get to my destination.

So I set out, realizing -- too late -- that I was underdressed for the cold. After surviving two bouts of pneumonia, you'd think I would have learned my lesson by now. My numb toes and fingers finally made me brave enough to poke one blue thumb out of my tightly clenched fist into the frigid air in the typical hitchhiker's pose. Surprisingly, within just a few minutes, a van stopped and I began a grand, serendipitous adventure after climbing into the back seat, warm air enveloping me.

And so it was that I met Rodney, the manager for a men's formal wear store in Chelsea. Rodney is Peruvian, but was born in NYC and lives in the Bronx. Due to Rodney's generosity (and also because he needed at least three people in his vehicle to pass the police check points to enter the business district), I also met a Russian immigrant, Ellie, and a Dominican beautician, Pat.

For more than an hour, we snailed through the tremendous crush of traffic, our progress and spirits buoyed as we shared stories and gifts along the way. We grumbled about huge delivery trucks clogging the streets, and complained about taxi drivers who refused to bring us to the business district or who were only too happy to charge us twice the set rate to do so. We laughed together when we noticed that the snowy-haired policeman sitting in his car at the westside highway entrance ramp was asleep. We swapped contact information so we could find each other tonight, and again tomorrow, for our return.

This one vehicle's cargo reflected the face of NYC and all that makes America great; each of us different, separate, yet the same; a black woman, a brown man, and two white women; almost all of us bilingual; two of us immigrants, one, a transplanted New Yorker and one, a native New Yorker, brought together by circumstance.

This one vehicle blended smoothly into the masses as it carried us all into the raucous, chaotic, glowing heart of the city.

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© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

5 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

What a great story! Those are the best moments -- brought on by difficult circumstances. A silver lining of sorts. I'm glad you found such a nice ride, so how was the ride home?

10:20 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

RD; the ride home was great. the ride in to the business district this morning was very cramped -- there were ten people total in rodney's windstar van .. it was as crammed as any ride i've ever had, but it was also fun.

it was amazing to see how dedicated rodney was. even though he has a cold and obviously felt miserable, he never complained as he drove all over manhattan and the bronx, picking us all up. it took him almost three hours!

new yorkers are the bestest peeps.


12:09 PM  
Blogger Phila said...

On Eschaton last night, there was some faux-New Yorker whining humorlessly about the "hardship" of the strike. It was pretty easy to spot him as a fraud, 'cause New Yorkers thrive on hardship and are happy to have opportunities to one-up each other. And the reality, of course, is that people generally have heartwarming experiences like yours.

F'rinstance, I made lots of friends the night of the blackout, got to play Monopoly on a stranger's stoop, and was able to trade my wife's bra for a round of drinks. Sure, I was charged $3.00 for a stale H&H bagel on Broadway, but that just gave me something to bitch about! All in all, the perfect evening...massive inconvenience and all!

BTW, I tagged you with one of those Internet-meme things.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Great story. Nicely written, too.

Makes me wish I lived in NYC. I can't see the people here being so interested in helping strangers, but I guess you never know until it happens.

Anyway I was glad to read this morning that the strike was over. Seems ridiculous that it had to happen at all.

Btw, was glad to see that the House voted on a shorter extension of the Patriot Act. Would have been better to get rid of it altogether, but I'll take what I can get when it comes to civil liberties these days.

6:49 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Phila; you were in NYC during our blackout? and i didn't get to meet you? i am so bummed!

and i answered the meme. sorry i forgot that you tagged me, i was still surprised that you have a wife and that thought crowded everything else out of my head.

Ms. PhD; NYC is a really special place, that's for sure. and i agree with you on the strike -- everyone lost, really. incidentally, i walked home last night -- i got home at 115 in the morning after walking 140 blocks. i sure could use a footrub!

i also agree with you regarding the so-called patriot act. how many more years of this do we have remaining?


6:58 AM  

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