Valerie and I woke up, got dressed, ate a quick breakfast at Starbucks, and then started our walk to Rockefeller Center. It was pretty cloudy out and it felt much colder than before. That could be because I was out of snowboarding socks and didn’t wear a scarf or winter hat that day. This was the only time I didn’t have gloves with me and wished that I had. Most times I didn’t have or need them.
We purchased our Top of the Rock tickets and headed to the observation deck. The visibility was pretty good – 10 miles, I think it said? – and we got some good photos. I do wish it had been sunnier! We actually spotted a few snowflakes while we were up there!
On our walk back to the hotel, we passed this LOVE sculpture. I had seen it once before when I took a walk with Jennifer & May Fances back in 2011, but this was my first time to notice it this trip.
Once we got back to the hotel, it was about 11:30. I quickly heated up & ate my remaining leftovers from Sheri & Keesha’s fridge and scarfed down as much cheesecake as I could handle. I did have to throw away a bit of my Junior’s Devil’s Food Cheesecake. Tragedy.
Valerie and I packed up the last of our stuff and then went to the lobby to checkout. A bell boy asked if we had a ride and we told him we were going to take a taxi to the airport. He directed us toward the doorman and told us he would get us a taxi. There were a couple of taxis in a line by the hotel, so the doorman waved for the first one. The driver pulled up and the doorman started putting our luggage in the trunk. We got in the car and told the taxi driver we were going to LaGuardia airport. He asked what airline and we told him United. The doorman finished loading our luggage, shut the trunk, and told the cabbie in his New York accent, “Take ‘em to LaGuardia.” The driver asked us if we would be paying with cash or credit. Valerie and I both glanced in our wallets and told him we would pay with cash. He started driving. He told us it would be “about like $45” for a ride to LaGuardia. He said that would be for the ride & the toll, and I honestly couldn’t tell if he said it would include the tip or not. He was really hard to understand. Whatever the case, $45 is not what my research had told me. After a few blocks, I realized the meter said “OFF”.
Me – “Are you going to turn your meter on?”
Cabbie – “No, it is sometimes not working.”
Valerie – “Is it a flat rate to LaGuardia?”
Cabbie – “No.”
If it’s not a flat rate, then how does he know for sure what it will cost? Jerk. I think he’s lying. I think he’s trying to pull one over on us.
So I texted Valerie. I think he’s trying to pull one over on us. I say he gets $45 and not a penny more. I’ll do $23. You do $22. Done.
Valerie texted back. Let’s both do $23.
At this point, I also texted Sheri & Keesha and told them about our shady taxi driver. They texted back & told me the doorman was not pleased when they told him what was going on and he said we should get his medallion number and report him. The yellow taxis are required to have working meters.
While I was texting with Sheri & Keesha, Valerie was taking photos of the driver’s medallion number and license photo posted on the back of the driver’s seat and was doing her own research. She started reporting her findings out loud and wasn’t trying to be quiet about it.
Valerie – “Were we staying in midtown?”
Me – “Yeah.”
Valerie – “This says a taxi from midtown to LaGuardia is $25 to $30 plus toll and tip.”
Me – “Yeah, that’s what I had heard, too.”
(Enter a few seconds of silence.)
Valerie – “This article says they’ve really been cracking down on cabbies lately for scamming their customers. This says thousands of dollars worth of fines. I guess there goes all your tips, huh?!”
This just made me laugh. And once Valerie gets on a roll, she just keeps going.
Valerie – “My stomach hurts a little bit. I feel a little nauseous. Maybe I should just puke in here before we get out.”
I think this comment made my eyes wide.
Valerie – “This article says some of these drivers are doing jail time. Jaaaaaail.”
The long, drawn out “jaaaaail” just put it over the top for me. It was almost as funny to me as “thank you for wearing pants”. Then she found another article which she started to read to us out loud.
Valerie – “Oh, here’s an article! It’s called ‘The Myth of the Broken Taxi Meter’”.
I think she had actually started reading it to us when we pulled up at the United Airlines check-in area. Mr. Dishonesty never made eye contact with us. He just looked at the ground, helped us get our suitcases out of the back, took the stack of cash ($46) which he didn’t count, and walked back to the driver’s seat.
Sheri & Keesha told me theirs ended up being right around that amount. It was $40 and they gave a $10 tip, so that brought theirs to $50. I don’t know if this is accurate, but Valerie found something saying that how much luggage you have makes a difference on the toll. And Sheri & Keesha are not light packers. I think they each had at least two suitcases. Valerie and I had one each. So I’m not sure what our actual cost would have been, but it would have been nice for him to just be honest. He would have likely gotten a better tip, because Valerie and I aren’t lousy tippers, and he also wouldn’t have gotten reported. Because he did. I’ve gotten a couple of confirmation email messages and I will be contacted in a few weeks with instructions on how to submit my written testimony.
The truth is that I try to avoid taxis in New York as much as possible. I much prefer the subway or even a shuttle van to them. The subway payment system isn’t shady. The shuttle vans are prepaid so they’re not shady either. In my experience, the majority of the New York City taxi drivers treat people like crap and are dishonest, so when I go, I avoid them as much as possible. And when my friends go, I advise them to avoid them, too. They need to clean up their act. I’m grateful for Valerie’s most excellent comic relief on that taxi ride, because it’s really sad to just arrive in the city and have a horrible first experience by riding with a shady cab driver (been there, done that!) or to wrap up your trip in that manner. Who knew jaaaaail could be so funny?!
After about two hours in the LaGuardia airport, we boarded our flight to Houston. Valerie boarded a few minutes ahead of me because I was off to the side, running my mouth with Sheri & Keesha. Once I got to the front of the line, I was about three people behind a woman in the military. As I was boarding and was about to pass through first class, I saw a man wave over the flight attendant. He said, “The woman in fatigues … I want to switch seats with her.” I thought that was so kind & honorable. I got to my seat and then I saw the flight attendant leading the man down the aisle. They stopped a few rows ahead of me as she told the servicewoman that this man was trading seats with her. She gathered her belongings and thanked the man. He smiled and nodded and took the seat in coach while the woman in fatigues made her way to first class. What a gentleman.
I had the window seat and didn’t get a good view of New York City as we left on account of the thick clouds. But as soon as we got above them, it was beautiful. The skies were blue and clear and the little floor of clouds was below us. I was paying attention this time and probably saw a dozen planes traveling around us between New York City and Houston, before we descended. It was really cool to see them all. The coolest one was a big plane that flew over us. I wanted to take a photo of it so badly, but my camera roll was full, so I just got an error message. I cleared off a few photos and took this one as we were getting ready to land in Houston.
Keesha had been reprimanding me for booking flights that connected in Houston. She told me they always ran into problems in Houston and the flights would be delayed. I had only flown through Houston twice that I could remember and I remembered liking the Houston airport! They had a Fox News store! (This time it was not so good. When I visited it before, years ago, they had Fox News merchandise. I bought my dad some Fox News socks! This time the only thing that set it apart as a Fox News store was the sign out front and the televisions inside that were broadcasting Fox News. Otherwise it was just like your average airport store with books, magazines, and snacks.) So anyway, we got to our gate to fly back to Monroe. The four of us were sitting around visiting and reminiscing about the fun we’d had in New York when suddenly an announcement was made. They were having to make a repair to the aircraft before we could board. They would update us as they knew more details. Keesha said, “Of course there’s a problem with the plane! This is Houston!” Ooops! She said, “Lindsay, is Houston still your favorite airport?!” I told her it was not. She said, “Good! Do you have any other dreams I can crush?!” Nope, not at the moment! Haha!
Fortunately, our delay was only about twenty or thirty minutes and then we were on our way. It’s only a forty-five minute flight from Houston to Monroe! They told us that several times, I think to console us for having been delayed.
While we were waiting, I looked at Keesha’s giant New York Yankees carry-on duffle bag in amazement. I said, “This is your CARRY-ON?!” She said it was and that she had purchased it in Times Square that morning for her son! (Keesha loves to shop and tends to forget that she’s on a trip and has to pack & check all her stuff rather than throw it all in the trunk of her car.) After a few minutes, I noticed one of those little measuring stations for your carry-on bags. I had always noticed them at check-in and security, but never at the gate. So I quietly picked up the giant Yankees duffle bag and stuck it on top (because it wouldn’t fit inside) of the measuring station. Mmmm-hmmm! I got Keesha’s attention and showed her that her carry-on was much too big. She threatened to snatch my *** up if I didn’t bring it back over there and they made her check it! Yikes! (*That reminds me of another funny story I missed from earlier! I’ll add it in a minute!) A few minutes later, the United employee who had made our “delayed flight” announcements came over with a luggage tag for Keesha to fill out for that large duffle bag. Uh-oh! They didn’t make her pay to check it, but they told her it was too large to fit in an overhead bin, so she would need to pick it up after we landed in Monroe. Ooops! Fortunately, my *** remained unsnatched!
We boarded and took our quick forty-five minute flight to Monroe. My parents, Valerie’s mom, Keesha’s husband, and Sheri’s husband and son were all waiting for us.
* Here is the funny story I missed. An ongoing joke throughout the trip was about snatching people’s *** up. It started like this.
Sheri & Keesha went to New Jersey on Sunday. They wanted to eat at Grimaldi’s over there and visit the Cake Boss store. They had some trouble finding their way around the subway system from New Jersey back to Manhattan. It was a bit of an ordeal. Once they made it, they hustled to the theater for Cinderella. They tried to open the doors of the theater and realized they were locked. Sheri asked Keesha for the tickets. That’s when they realized they had tickets for Wicked Sunday night and Cinderella Tuesday night. They were at the wrong theater. So then they had to hustle across town to the correct theater. They still had all their bags from shopping in New Jersey, and I believe they said Sheri also had a backpack. When they got to the theater for Wicked (late), Sheri had to go to the bathroom, so she went straight to the bathroom while Keesha talked to the ticket guys/ushers. She showed them their tickets and one guy looked at the other one and said, “We can’t seat them until intermission. They’re in section N.” Keesha quickly told him, “You listen to me. We just came here from New Jersey. You are going to seat us. If I have to go snatch her *** off that toilet right now, I will do it.” She said one guy looked like he was trying not to laugh. Then Sheri came out of the bathroom none the wiser, Keesha turned the usher in the right direction and gave him a little shove, and he seated them. Sheri had no idea she was about to be snatched! They said they got to their seats and they were, of course, in the middle of a row. Nobody made any effort to move to help them get to their seats easily, so with every step, Sheri was stepping on feet & whacking people in the face with her backpack. STEP, WHAP! STEP, WHAP! I loved that story. So yes … ever since, Keesha would threaten to snatch someone’s *** when she felt necessary. On the flight from New York to Houston, I was walking down the aisle to the bathroom and Sheri told me that Keesha said I needed to sit down. On my way back to my seat, I leaned down & told them I was glad Keesha didn’t come snatch me off the toilet!
As you can see, the 2014 NYC trip was a success. It was fun, as always. I’m ready to go again, but trying to hold off until my sister, Melissa, is able to go with me, which may be a couple of years. Until next time, NYC!