|New York City
Ah, New York. The hustle and bustle, the bright lights, the “Big Apple!” I had heard so much about New York City. It’s portrayed in countless movies and television shows. It has been sung about, written about and talked about like no other city in the country!
I had signed up for and received an audition time through the website of “ Who Wants to Be A Millionaire!” I desperately wanted to be on the game show, and now had my chance. I knew I was smarter than the people on the show and knew I could win some big money!
The only problem was the audition was being held in New York, New York. I had to go. I made my plane reservations, and in June of 2005, I was on my way.
When I disembarked at J.F.K. International, the first thing I noticed was the smell. It was not an overpowering odor, yet ever present on my long trek down to baggage. It was a mixture of people odor, pollution, and some unidentifiable smells mixed in.
I found my suitcase and hailed a cab that took credit cards. I gave him the address of the hotel where I was staying and we were off. The hotel was located a half block off Times Square in the heart of Manhattan. The driver was a nice man with dreadlocks and 18 years experience driving cabs in N.Y.C..
I have been on a lot of exciting rides, including the front seat of a bi-plane that was performing aerobatics, but nothing matched that cab ride into New York City. Shortly after we left J.F.K., I buckled up and said a little prayer for my safety. It was immediately obvious that cabbies did not waste time. Time is money, as they say. It wasn’t just him either. This ride was like the last five laps of the Indy 500. Every cab was jockeying for position, drafting for speed, and nearly bumping into each other on the narrow streets. I was very impressed with his skill and mastery of the pedals. Braking and speeding up at the same time meant we got around the corners faster. At one point, while traveling down a narrow street with cars parked on both sides, I looked at the speedometer and saw that we were moving along at 53 m.p.h.. If one person opens a door or steps out from between the cars, and it's over. Since it was 11:30 p.m., there was not much activity until we reached our destination. I paid him and stepped onto the curb out of harms way, grateful for another chance to live!
Times Square was a teeming mass of people, even at that late hour. It reminded me of the state fair, only the people were thinner.
The following day, I had about 12 hours until the audition. New York was at my doorstep and I planned to see as much as possible with the time I had.
I headed out for the subway intent on seeing The Statue of Liberty. I asked the lady selling tokens which train to take to get to the Statue. She gave me instructions which I promptly forgot and I got on the wrong train. Instead of going south to the Staten Island Ferry, I got on an express train heading north. I did not realize that an express train didn’t stop at every station. When it finally did stop, I was at 125th street, 80 blocks north of Times Square, and 125 blocks north of my destination. I left the subway and came out in Harlem.
Whenever I relate this story, people gasp and act like I had just stepped into a war zone. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I went into a couple of shops, bought some t-shirts, and asked for directions to the Statue of Liberty. I was treated with respect and courtesy. I was a minority for the first time in my life and had some idea, now, of what it must be like.
I finally made my way to the Statue of Liberty and got to see up close the majesty and grace that is our Lady Liberty. It was humbling to know that the She was the first site thousands, if not millions of immigrants saw as they entered this country.
I later walked to the audition down Broadway, the Great White Way. I saw all the sites made famous on television and in movies. Carnegie Hall, Ed Sullivan Theater, Radio City Music Hall and Central Park, to name a few.
I made the audition which consisted of a general trivia test. If I did not pass the test, the audition was over. I didn’t. As it turns out, I wasn’t smarter than all those contestants on the show.
I did, however have a great day walking the streets of the most famous city in the country. I can’t wait to go back with my family and spend more time exploring. I had only scratched the surface in my short time there, but it was a great time.