The college search for youngest son continued last week with a visit to Hunter College in New York City. This was his idea, I swear. The Chancellor and I set aside the second Tuesday in November and took the time off to take him on the train to NYC.
Monday night before the visit and suddenly it's a different story. He doesn't want to go because he has to make dumplings for his German class version of Oktoberfest.
I was not happy about this, after all a plan is plan and The Chancellor had turned down hours at the Hospital we were going, like it or not.
He agreed only if his friend Pat could come.
Pat could come if Pat paid his own way.
On Tuesday morning Pat showed up with yet another Hunter College candidate, Paul. the five of us piled into the minivan and headed to the train station in Hamilton. We timed it perfectly and caught the 11 AM to Penn Station without incident despite of the boys deciding they wanted a last minute donut at the train station while the train was pulling in.
It was only the beginning of my stress.
We arrived in New York at 12:30, found a seemingly endless buffet bar in midtown, grabbed some lunch and then headed for the Subway.
Now, I know nothing about the MTA or NYC Subways so I had consulted with Oldest Son when he was home the week before. I thought you got on a Subway and it just took you where you wanted to go. Apparently it does not work like this. You need a map and the map of NYC Subway system looks like some one took a bowl full of different colored spaghetti and then threw it on a map of NYC.
Oldest Son had a iPhone App that mapped out your trip on the Spaghetti/Subway system. We had to take the "E" train towards Queens, change over to the 6 train and then get off at Hunter College which had its own stop.
This seemed easy enough. One transfer, how hard could that be, right?
Well, it took us a while but we figured out the MTA machines and we got on the E train. The only hitch was that Patrick's MTA card was a little fussy and wouldn't let him through the turnstile. While the four of us waited on the Subway side, Patrick wiped his card like a mad man until it let him through.
This would come back to haunt us later.
We rode the E train, listened for the transfer point for the number 6 and then got off the train. So far so good except we were at the south end of the platform and couldn't find the 6 train. We saw two of NYC's finest and asked them.
I guess you just expect a cop to know everything and so when they said they were trying to find it themselves, I was a little shocked. They were from Brooklyn and were peering into a smart phone to try and get directions. About that time, we all saw the signs for the 6 at the other end of the platform and headed north.
When you are that far below ground, you lose all sense of depth. I had walked down a flight of steps back in midtown so I thought we were still about 1 story down. That's why I pooh poohed the elevator when I saw a line of about 15 trying to get on it to get the 6 train. This ended up being a huge mistake.
Let's just keep walking and find a stairs, I thought. Now somewhere in here, we lost the cops, maybe it was at the elevator, I don't know.
A little further down we found a stuck escalator that an endless stream of people were pouring out of onto the E platform. There was a short black woman at the bottom headed up and she squeezed her way unto the escalator and started to make her way up. I figured she knew where she was going and so I followed her up and the rest of our field trip followed me.
We were fighting traffic and climbing at the same time and had no idea where we going since all we saw were people coming down and we never really looked up.
If we had, we would have seen something like this (except from the other direction):
Soon the traffic coming down stopped and we could see that we weren't even half way up the tallest stuck escalator I have ever seen.
It was about here that the short black woman decided that she could not go on. The Chancellor was directly behind me and the boys behind her, all climbing for daylight. The woman stopped, I passed her and continued marching up.
This action showed a big difference between my wife and I. I kept marching up and she went into "life coach for strangers" mode. She demanded that the small tired woman "keep going" with encouragements like "You can do it". She refused to let her go back down.
Meanwhile, I looked up and nearly fainted from vertigo. There was something about the small round tunnel, the lack of Oxygen and my wife yelling "You can do it" like Rob Schneider in an Adam Sandler movie that made my head spin a bit. I fought my way to the top with our new best friend behind me. The Chancellor refused to let her stop or turn back.
Finally we made to the top. My legs were rubber and I was bent over, out of breath. All I remember saying was "what..... was..... that?". It was the stuck escalator from hell, that's what it was. I don't even remember what happened to the small black woman as we all regathered ourselves at the top.
We found the 6 without incident and found Hunter easily. We were early and so we spent some time in Central Park killing about an hour. We went back to Hunter, sat through a 45 minute presentation and then all three boys decided "I don't like Hunter". We bailed on the tour and decided to go home.
I was greatly disappointed since a) it's cheap ($4600/year!) and b) I had climbed that stupid escalator and spent $120 bucks to get there.
Now we had to reverse the trip except now it was rush hour. Of course Patrick has somehow used both rides during his frantic swiping of the MTA card and we found ourselves in the same position with Patrick on the outside, the rest of us on the inside. Patrick was ready to jump the turnstile like it was some Jenifer Lopez movie but I pointed to cop and made him go to the ticket window where they fixed his card and then he joined us.
The 6 train was packed but we stuck together. I was afraid I'd lose one of them in the crowd and we would get separated so I drilled them on where to go.
"OK So we get off the 6 and we get on the..... anyone... "E" We get on the E. And then we head to ? Penn Station at 34th street." They understood the gravity of being lost in NY and stuck with me.
We ended up getting on a 4:37 express train to Hamilton and we were home by 6 PM. Youngest Son made the dumplings, brought them to school the next day and no one ate them. When he told me that, I reflected back on what a total waste the day had been.
Ohh and next time, I will take a cab. Pictures Here