Wednesday, December 9, 2009

If The Traffic Will Allow

Just past 5 o'clock, Michael, Katrin, and I exited New World Stages. We headed East on 50th Street toward the zipcar pick up location. About halfway down the block, Katrin said she should have gone to the bathroom. Michael told her to go back to the theatre and we would pick her up on 49th Street by the stage door.

After Michael checked in at zipcar, we waited 10-15 minutes on the attendant to bring the car around. Michael and I threw our bags in the back and jumped in to get on the road. You see we were heading to New Haven, CT. The trip is generally an hour-and-a-half without traffic. We were attempting a 5pm departure to give ourselves plenty of time to make an 8pm curtain of the musical POP! at Yale Rep. Hopefully, we were even going to be able to eat before the show.

Not so much!

When we got to the West Side Highway traffic was creeping along. It wasn't quite a parking lot, but it was barely moving. Michael was frustrated and rightfully so. He kept saying we should have left earlier. Hindsight is always 20/20. We continued on the WSH for a while until Michael decided to abandon the printed directions and attempt a faster route on Broadway. We made a right turn off of the WSH and headed toward Broadway.

I saw areas of Manhattan I've never seen before. Specifically the area from 103rd - 110th Street. It was beautiful. It's the Columbia University area. It's the area I was hoping to find an apartment when I was looking for a new one this past summer. Even though I had never been to the area, people kept telling me it was a great area in which to live. There seemed to be nothing available in my price range. Anyway, driving through it made me long for the ability to live there.

Katrin was sitting in the back seat and used her iphone to help navigate the direction Michael should take to reach I-95 North. The first choice was an exit that would take us back to the WSH. We could see that it was still barely moving. Michael chose to pass that exit and asked Katrin to find out what was the next possibility. We kept heading North on Broadway. The beauty of the lower one hundreds morphed into the less than refined area of Harlem. We saw the signs for I-95 N. It was 181st street. Easy. We followed the signs and started the loop onto the interstate. We could see the traffic. It looked as if it was moving about as fast as the WSH had been moving. We were racing the clock. As we merged into traffic on the interstate, it was moving faster than we first thought. Katrin was giving us updates about how long it would take from that point to our destination. Finally we were on our way

Honestly, we were speeding right along with no problems in sight until I saw a sign above the interstate that read: Accident ahead on the right. We all groaned. Time was ticking. Fifty-three minutes away. That would put us at the theatre with 15 minutes to spare. But we hadn't run upon the accident yet. Toll booth. We have EZpass. However, we missed all the EZpass lanes to our left and got honked at by a large trunk. We got into a regular pay lane. Katrin and I dug out the correct change and we sat there. Three cars in front of us and I wondered aloud how hard it was to put $1.75 in a plastic chute? Michael commented that the EZpass lanes didn't appear to be moving any faster. Finally we reached the booth and the board flashed that it had read the EZpass. Cheers!! Then: the parking lot. We passed the booth then alternately sat on and crept up the interstate. Traffic was barely moving. This must be the foretold accident. Time was ticking. As of now Katrin is thinking we aren't going to make it by curtain. We were hungry. Katrin had strawberry gum that we all chewed. Two pieces each. We crept and crept up the interstate until finally it started to move again. As we regained the ability to accelerate we were given the opportunity to see that there was no apparent reason the traffic had been at a stand still. We passed no accident. If fact, we didn't see an accident at all. Maybe that board hadn't been updated from an earlier accident. Who knows. As we started speeding again, the update on time put us there after 8pm.

The remainder of the drive to New Haven was smooth. We hit the city limits about 8:05pm. At New World Stages we start our shows between 5-7 minutes after 8pm. So I made a comment to that affect. Hopefully, we wouldn't be too late. Michael let Katrin and I off at the door while he went to find parking. We arrived at 8:10pm. We had to wait for a late seating cue. The facility had a flat screen television in the lobby for just that situation. It allowed us to see what we would have missed otherwise waiting to be seated. Michael arrived after parking the car just before we were to be seated. So, we all got to go in together.

I don't really want to say much about the show except that Michael and I didn't care for it and Katrin loved it.

After the performance we were all starving. Since we were late to the show we obviously didn't have time to eat anything for dinner. We started walking down the street and found a Thai restaurant. The kitchen was closing so we didn't stay. We crossed the street to another Thai restaurant. I looked at the hours on the window. They closed at 10pm. It was 9:50pm. All I could say was "we're not in Manhattan anymore." They kindly sat us, but quickly told us that the kitchen would be closing in 10 minutes. We ordered. Thank goodness. Food was on the way. We utilized our time to discuss the production. Our likes and dislikes. The commercial viability of the production for New World Stages or another New York City venue.


Even though we were tired and our bellies were full, we were perky as we walked to the car. Katrin wished we could stay in New Haven. I did too. Not having to be at work until 3pm the next day myself, I would have loved an evening in a hotel room in that cute little Connecticut town. It's a city, I know, but it's a college town. That somehow makes it feel smaller, more intimate.

Somewhere, either at the restaurant or on the walk to the car, dessert was mentioned. I think I said something about McDonald's drive thru for coffee and apple pie. Everyone agreed that was a good idea.

We quickly and rather easily found our way to I-95 South and began our trip back to New York City. Katrin chose the back seat again as she wanted to nap. Michael was driving. I was the passenger in charge of the music. At first we were going to listen to a musical. Something to keep us entertained on the drive back. Then I decided to play DJ and play selections from various musicals. All the while trying to keep things uptempo and lively. It was, after all, almost 11pm and we were driving. We listened. We sang along.

Soon after we crossed into New York State, Michael decided to stop for gas. Wouldn't you know it, there was a McDonald's just down the street. Katrin decided against dessert. Michael chose the pie. I chose a hot fudge sundae. No one chose coffee. It was almost like being back at the toll booth. One car in front of us and it was just sitting there. Again I ask, how hard is it to count your money and pay your bill? Pie and ice cream in hand, with rain now falling from the sky, we got back on the interstate for the final leg of our trip. The music of choice was Little Shop of Horrors and Rocky Horror Show.

We were back in Manhattan shortly after midnight. It literally took us about and hour-and-a-half even with the pit stop for gas and McDonald's. That's what happens when there's no traffic.

I'm glad that I was given the opportunity to ride along on the trip. I'm glad that we went by car instead of train. Even with all the traffic, and not arriving on time, we had a good time. I hope we get to do it again soon.