For the first time in a year and a half I am going on vacation. Over 3 weeks out of my office (muffled scream of elation), first stop: New York to visit my niece and nephew. Then on to Oslo for an audience with the Royal Indian Mounted Food Control Police and a meet-up with sisters and brothers-in-law, then off to Nice, France, for what was supposed to have been but isn’t, a joyful honeymoon (not that it won’t be joyful, just not a honeymoon at this point in time) with a side trip to Rapallo, Italy, finishing with 4 more days in Oslo.
I started in Milwaukee, flying to Newark since for some odd reason Newark has the only non-stop flight to Oslo. Newark is fine, it’s a short train ride to Penn Station and from there I could catch the F train to Brooklyn where Charlie and Madeline live. Or so I thought.
I bought a new super, hyper-giganticallly enormous suitcase for the voyage. Think steamer trunk on rolly wheels. I have no idea what possessed me to do this aside from a sheer lack of forethought. I mean I needed a suitcase but not one into which I could fit ALL of my clothes and shoes and still have room for my pots and pans. When I packed, and I packed for several different weather eventualities—think Oslo (North Pole), South of France (palm trees, Mediterranean breezes), Italy (pizza)—I pretty much took all my clothes and the suitcase was still not full. It’s a good thing I am in the process of moving because I needed to put bubble wrap in the goddam thing to fill it up and I had plenty of it laying around (see below).
So here I am in Penn Station with my rolly suitcase which pretty much the size, shape and weight of a refrigerator trying to find/catch the F train to Brooklyn. I was remaining calm but Penn Station at 4:45 is NOT AT ALL calm. It is freaking pandemonium. “Um, excuse me sir, do you know from which platform the F train departs?” I asked no one in particular on several occasions, waving the instructions I had printed out from the google.
Eventually I found and asked an officer of the New Jersey Transit Authority seated aggressively at a desk obviously marked “Information.” I believe his exact words words were: “Ain’t no F train.” Or perhaps it was “Ain’t no F-in’ F train.” Whatever it was, it was helpful in a New York-y kind of way.
I suppose there were many ways in which I might have responded and I am guessing that showing him the printout from the google where it clearly states that you can catch the F train from Penn Station was not one of them, nor was it particularly helpful, and if it was, he did not seem to indicate that. As it turns out, the F train is not a “train” it is the subway and no subways leave from Penn Station. Only trains, none of which are named F (thank god or I’d have gotten on it). The F train leaves from Chapel Hill or Rosemont Park or some damn place that is not Penn Station. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, and there are plenty more, I was able, despite the shrieking morass of New York humanity, the not-exactly-even nature of the floors, and appalling lack of escalators, exit Penn Station and walk the 4 blocks rolling my refrigerator the entire way to Claremont Green or whatever the damn place was and find the F train. What you can see here is my suitcase blocking the “down” escalator entirely. In front of me is an escalator with no people on it. Not because there were no people, there were thousands of them and they were in a freaking HURRY to get somewhere or other but they could not. They were all behind me.
You will notice that despite the alarming nature of the situation, I had the presence of mind to take out my iPhone and record it.