Sunday, June 23, 2013

Big City, Little City (One)

My summer started, with my expectations of city folk about to be derailed.

I boarded an Amtrak business car (I was on business after all!) at 6 AM, a tad nervous about the trip that lay ahead. By 9:30 the train pulled into Penn Station. I've been in and out of Penn Station before, but never wielding wheeled luggage and a stuffed shoulder tote. Still I maneuvered pretty steadily onto the  up escalator that brought me out of  underground Penn to the city's heavily  shadowed daylight  

I walked ‘bout a half mile up 33rd Street to Broadway, locating the hotel I‘d booked for the night. Only catch – check-in wasn't until four.  With a suitcase mostly filled with books (I’d be attending the New York Book Festival tomorrow – in the same hotel) and two business-casual-changes folded in the large shoulder tote, taking a bite out of the Big Apple on arrival day wasn't going to be easy. Crowded New York street crossings are not suitcase-on-wheels/stuffed-shoulder-totes friendly. Conventional wisdom told me throngs of city dwellers and workers weren't necessarily friendly on a number of levels, no less on the corners of their congested streets.

But there I stood at the revolving door of the hotel. The doormen looked more business-like than polite as they waved guests in and out of the threshold’s spin-around. Yet, it wouldn't hurt to go in, I thought. I'd ask if there was a place I could leave my baggage until four (even as I questioned how secure is secure behind the front desk of a big city hotel). I waited in line for my turn with a desk clerk. A sympathetic desk clerk I hoped.

“I’m booked here for tonight,” I explained. “I was wondering if you had a place I could –“

“Name,” she interrupted.So much for sympathetic.  

I gave my last name. Almost immediately she followed-up with my first. Then asked for a credit card. Her fingers clicked the keyboard, her eyes glued to the computer screen

“Your room is ready,” she announced.

“Really?” I said. “And I was just hoping to be able to leave my bags some –“

“Christmas in June,” she remarked, then cracked a smile.  “The first elevator will take you up to 18. It’s the highest level,“ she said as she handed me my scan key.

“Even better than Christmas in July,” I said. “Thank you so much.”

I headed for the only elevator that went to the top level, and said a silent prayer there’d be no fire !

(to be continued)

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