Failure To Communicate
Last week I was fortunate to receive an invitation to spend a few days at our parent company headquarters, Townsquare Media in New York. I'd booked my flight and packed my bags before my boss could confirm via email that I'd accepted the invitation.
By the time I'd boarded my 6:30 am flight, I'd driven through a monsoon, spilled a quart of coffee on my pants (which resulted in furtive glances from the gentleman beside me on the plane), and busted a wheel on my suitcase. Aside from an overwhelming urge to empty the contents of my stomach due to turbulence, the flight was otherwise uneventful. I landed in New York at 10:45 am.
After grabbing my crippled luggage from baggage claim, a gentleman wearing a newsboy cap and wool coat called out to offer his driving services. I weighed the additional cost against the 45 minute wait for a cab before climbing into a silver Suburban and introducing myself to Alex.
During the commute, Alex and I covered an array of subjects including Henry VII, Spanish Conquistadors and corn bread. A portion of our conversation is below:
My new friend deposited me in front of the hotel and compromised his reputation by unloading my raggedy suitcase. He waved good-bye with the promise to check on me before I left on Wednesday.
Following an uneventful check-in at the front desk, I dragged my belongings across the lobby. After the elevator delivered me to the 22nd floor, I unpacked and snapped a few pictures of the foggy view from 50th Street and 3rd Avenue to include in a text home. Afterwards, I headed out to rediscover New York.
One hour and thirteen city blocks later, I was in complete agreement with Apple's decision to fire the gentleman who designed the new iPhone navigation maps. Prior to my third trip past the three businessmen enjoying steaks at Smith and Wollensky, I crammed my coat into my shoulder bag and hoped my altered appearance was enough to disguise the multiple visits past their window.
After talking with my imaginary friend on an imaginary phone call that lasted the same amount of time required to usher me out of their line of sight, I put my phone away and attempted to find my intended destination by memory or accident. The fact that I found Mama Mexico's on my first attempt sans phone should serve as evidence that smart phones lower our IQ's but alas, my victory was short lived. The quaint Mexican bistro had closed.
After wandering the streets long enough to deplete my fat stores, I chose Dos Caminos for lunch. I have no idea what I ordered, but my waitress Molly from Michigan, pronounced the dish beautifully. Perfecto!
Several hours and three-hundred city miles later, I met several fellow Townsquare Media employees for dinner at a paella restaurant. 'Rice' and 'sausage' should be sufficient to impress upon you the level of enjoyment derived from this event.
By 9:00 that evening, the call of the bed at my hotel beckoned me to crawl between her sheets. I said my good-byes and proceeded to get lost once more before heading in for the night. On this occasion, my navigational subterfuge involved enthusiastically photographing luminescent trees and automobiles traveling down 3rd Avenue.
I eventually found my way back and not long after throwing my coat on the couch, I was asleep.
Less than four hours later, I was violently jerked awake by a shrill 'BRRRIPPP! BRRRIPPP! BRIPPPPP!' in my room. Convinced I was being serenaded by a demonic chorus of gargoyles, I stumbled from the bed in a disoriented mess. The bright strobe light continued rotating in my room long enough to allow me to reach the conclusion that I had not passed away nor was I visiting a night club.
I jumped from the bed, stepped into the nearest pair of boots, before grabbing my purse and coat. While standing at the door, I decided the risks associated with going back for my phone were worth having it with me in the event I needed to call my husband to alert him of my debut on national news. Seconds later, I was flying down 22 flights of stairs. By the time I'd reached the 8th, I was deciding what possessions I would will to family and friends. My legs were destroyed. Finally, I reached the bottom, pushed the door open and fell onto the street at the opposite end of the block.
As I rounded the corner, a gentleman I'd met earlier at dinner stood at the hotel's entrance, huddled against the cold. David is from Texas and projects the laid-back, easy charm one expects from the Southern male. Unaffected by my crazed appearance, he took a draw from his cigarette and nodded.
'What's going on," I demanded as sirens blared around us while several members of FDNY (thanks Di) made their way inside our hotel. An older man stood a few feet away and appeared to suffer from the same level of shock I labored under. His wide-eyed stare was magnified behind his glasses.
'False alarm,' David replied, taking another draw.
'False alarm?!' Three more ladders pulled up.
'Yeah. I called the front desk. The lady said somebody set off the alarm as a joke.' He must have sensed my confusion by his presence on the street. 'Since I'z up, I figured I might as well come down for a smoke.'
So there we stood; David and I, along with the mentally-fragile gentleman, freezing on a cold New York street as hoards of disgusted firemen went about their job ensuring sure we were safe. I prayed for trauma-induced amnesia to rob me of the awareness that I was wearing pink and green striped pajamas, a black tank top, brown riding boots, and the biggest coat not seen since A Christmas Story.
My life-or-death flight down a New York stairwell morphed into the Walk of Shame as we returned to the lobby. As I passed the young woman behind the front desk, I leaned in and quietly asked, 'Will you let me know if you find out who did this? I'd like to talk to them.' I understood her sympathetic smile to mean 'negative', but I would have told me no, too. I thanked her anyway and followed David into the elevator. I punched in my floor on the keypad.
'Wow. I can't believe you ran down the stairs,' he marveled to no one in particular. The doors closed. 'That's a pretty good haul. You should have just called the front desk.'
Funny. That thought never even crossed my mind.