Walking the Streets of Manhattan

I spent much of this week in Manhattan, which is not usually my favorite place to spend my time. I did the NY-thing a fews year back and quickly realized it wasn’t really for me. I finally decided to walk away from my job at major publishing house when I was mistaken for a farmer while wandering the farmer’s market at Rockefeller Center. Clearly I was not in my natural habitat.

I don’t mind going back every once in a while, but it’s usually for work…so, ya know… But this week I ended up spending my time down in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. I stayed at the Hotel Gansevort which is…uh…interesting. I’ve stayed in my fair share of NYC hotels and this was my favorite. I’ve stayed at the Hilton multiple times and their bedding is lack. The rooms at the Roosevelt are tiny, even though the hotel itself is a beautiful old classic. The crappy Holiday Inn Express I stayed at the last time I was there was meh… The Gansevort’s rooms were lovely. Nice bed. Nice bathroom. Plenty of space…but with some rather odd art choices and amenities.

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This lovely lady was what I woke up to each morning… and yes, that is an ENTIRE wall.

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Yep. That’s underwear. I don’t really understand it, but apparently the purchase of those underwear goes to support women in poverty through micro-finance projects. So I guess it’s for a good cause.

On Thursday I decided to walk from the hotel up to Chelsea Piers, where the conference I was attending was being held. It was a warm but windy morning, and while a rush-hour walk through mid-town would have sent me into fits of rage, walking along the cobblestone streets of downtown was a nice way to start the day.

Later, after the conference, I decided to stroll from Chelsea Piers back up to Penn Station — mostly via the Highline. Considering the wind and wintery brown of most of the plants, it wasn’t very crowded so it turned out to be a pretty nice way to experience it for the first time. I meandered slowly, not even listening to music while I did it. I just took it in.

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Despite my slow pace, I still ended up at Penn Station early. I tried to change my ticket, but there were no earlier trains so I hung around the Amtrak waiting area and read. At some point a young guy sat down across from me, and plugged in one phone to charge while talking on the other. Normally I might have been annoyed by his conversation, but the poor guy was having a bad day. He’d left his wallet in a taxi, and after canceling all his cards and losing his ID, he was stranded. The tellers wouldn’t let someone call in and buy him a ticket with a credit card. Western Union wouldn’t let him pick up a wire transfer of $25 because he didn’t have an ID. When he got off the phone, I was excited because I thought I may have solved his problem. I asked him if he would be able to get a boarding pass sent to his mobile phone. At first he looked excited, and then his face collapsed again.

“I’m taking the Long Island Railroad,” he told me. “They don’t have mobile boarding passes.”

“Oh,” I said as I gathered my things, preparing to go catch my own train. “Well, good luck.”

I wish I’d had the $21 for a ticket, but I had only a single dollar left in my wallet. I hope he got home alright — that someone with a fatter wallet than me took pity on him. Part of me felt bad that I didn’t offer to whip out a credit card and send him home, but the timing was bad, and while I like to help my fellow man, I don’t like going into debt to do it.

I think, maybe, the universe rewarded my attempt at kindness, because after I got home I sat down to watch the 30 Rock finale, with Twitter at the ready, and before I knew it a writer/editor from one of my favorite sites was following me. Cray cray!

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