Saturday, November 14, 2009

Da Newoik Connection

*First published on this hyar blog August 2, 2006*

Proof, if any were really needed, that sometimes it does, indeed, get cold even there.

*Blogger's note: True story upcoming*

It was February, 1990. In my then corporate job as a wee cog in a vast corporate machine, I was sent to Richmond, IN, for a pre-labor dispute survey (ie., to prepare a plan for the facility to operate in the event of a labor dispute at contract time, later that summer). One can tell that I was a junior in the org, since I 'won' the honor of travelling to nowhere fit to travel to in February. But I digress.

I flew into Indianapolis, and drove the hour and a half or so it took to get to Richmond (on the IN-OH border along I-70). It was cold and blustery, but no biggie until the next day, when an ice storm beset the area.

It was early that morning, shortly after I skated to the plant, that I got a phone call from Corporate: I was needed to travel to Poughkeepsie, NY, to interview a client on a billing issue. ASAP. I would have to drive back to Indianapolis, fly into Newark, NJ, and drive up to Poughkeepsie. That day. Ugh.

So began what I least expected: a journey to Hell. Twice.

As it was about 9:45am, I had little room for error: my department's corporate secretary got me booked on an 12:30p flight out of Indianapolis to Newark. So I hit the road in my rental car, skating the miles back to Indianapolis along an ice-sheened and accident-laden I-70. Don't ask me how I remained apart from any of the collective nonsense in the ditches and medians.

I made Indy with time enough to check in and board the friggin' plane. Which, after de-icing, only took off about 30 minutes late.

Interestingly enough, the ice storm hadn't extended itself to the East Coast; but the rain, drizzle and fog had. Newark was marginally visible.

That could have been my worst luck of the day. Alas, it 'tweren't.

Got down, off-loaded, found my luggage and kept it in hand (one of my cohorts had warned me that Newark was, er..."not a nice place"), got my rental car, map, and was on my way north toward the very near border with NY, where I'd be skirting the western edges of the monstrosity of culture, business and population, NYC. Which, in the drizzle and fog, I couldn't see a lick of.

At the border, I inquired of the toll booth babe (I'm being overly generous hyar) as to if I was on the right road to "PoughkEEpsie" (my pronounciation). She brusquely corrected me -- "it's PoughKIPsie!" (her sharp prounciation) -- and abruptly followed it with a sharp "stay on this road an' follow the signs", along with a look of "move on, cretin".

The corrected cretin drove on.

Amazingly, I found PoughKIPsie, after crossing the Hudson River on a rather impressive bridge span. Even more amazingly, after a quick call to the business I needed to find, I found the business on the opposite bank of the river in a run down-looking industrial park. Interview conducted. Answers obtained. Results phoned back to corporate. Badda boom badda bing, a snap, y'knowadda mean?

It was now about 6pm, and I had but a short journey back down the turnpike to the Newark Airport, where I'd dump the rental cahr (the toll booth Gestapo fraulein's prounciation), get a hotel room for the night, and return to Indianapolis on the 'morrow.


I headed south, still in the drizzle, and in traffic that was much heavier than I'd reckoned with coming north. That was my first hint that something was amiss in the mist. The next hint I should have grasped: as I crossed the line back into NJ from NY, there wasn't any toll booth stop with a Gestapoesque grammar wench awaiting me. I should have grasped the significance of the difference, instead of merely muttering an insincere "thank ye" to no one in particular.

About 30 minutes later, I could see activity that indicated an airport: aircraft, low in the sky, dropping toward somewhere off to my left (east), without the tell-tale fireballs that would suggest they were falling instead of landing. So I began to look for a sign for the airport turnoff.

One that never materialized.

I knew there'd been signs leaving the airport; but I was danged if I could fathom there not being any to guide some western grammatically-challenged schlep back to the same airport. So after driving far enough to no longer see in-bound planes landing somewhere to my left, I exited and returned north, only to see the same thing: planes now landing somewhere off to my right, but not a sign to guide me how to get there.

There was a reason for this; it only took me two hours to figure it out.

So there I was, driving north, hearing an airport somewhere nearby off to my right (it was dark by now), with not a road marker telling me how to negotiate the seemingly short distance east to get to it. After driving far enough north to decide I'd missed something again, I went back south.
The only change: the airport and falling planes were now off to my left again.


I wanted to go back north and find that Gestapoette and scream "PoughKEEEEEEEEPSIE!" at her fifty times, but that was for another lifetime. Right now, the only thing that mattered to me (and my becoming disgruntled sphincter), was finding the friggin' airport.

So when I got about center to where the airport seemed to be off to the east in the still foggy mist, I exited, and headed east on a surface street. About 20 minutes later, I was pulled over by a police officer, who apparently recognized a lost soul when he saw one; particularly a lost white soul in a 'burb that was predominantly ethnic (Elizabeth, NJ). Unfortunately, my relief at being pulled over rapidly vaporized when he started to tell me how to get where I wanted to go, got another call, and in a hurry just pointed and said "go that way and turn right!".

Back where I'd come from. With some degree of reluctance, I did.

See previous north/south refrain.

Now I'm not frustrated anymore; I'm nails-bitten-in-half angry. So much so, I tell my sphincter to suck it up and just f***** deal with it. I go south once more, and take another exit, north of the previous one, to try again a probe to the east.

20 minutes later, fugettaboutit. No airport. But I can hear planes just to my north.

So I head back west. North. Next exit. East again.


It was later that I learned that I'd gone north on one interstate (turnpike), but come south on one more to the west of the other somehow. Hence, the lack of signage sayin' "Hey Youse..yahr, youse finoke in da rental cahr: dis way over heah".

I finally find the cahr rental place, and blow an enormo sigh of relief as my sphincter is allowed a bigger sigh of relief. Then I happily hop aboard a van to my hotel, a Holiday Inn near the airport.
As we approach it, I turn to the driver and ask in mock horror, "is this the Holiday Inn or Newark Correctional facility?": in the lights of the facility, I see that the first two floors of the building had bars on the windows.

She didn't seem to appreciate my sense of humor. Perhaps I should have given her the eyebrow wiggle afterward, but I began to suspect she mighta had "dat type of dem connections, 'ey...".

What she appreciated even less -- as I would gain another snippet in my rather lacking northeastern etiquette education -- was the fact that I didn't offer up a generous tip after I disembarked at the hotel front guard In the words of Heart, "if looks could kill..."

Fortunately, I drew a room on da fourth floor with a view of nothing, though at least the windows weren't barred this high up. Guess the gangstas ain't got no ladders that high. Better still there was no apparent curfew or bed check.

Early the next morning, I was ready with tips (aka, bribe money) to get me to the airport, and aboard my flight back to Indy. The shuttle driver -- a bent nosed Soprano-lookin' sort widda penchance for grunting in lieu of forming woids -- seemed singularly unimpressed widda fin I left widdem. At least he delivered me to the ahrpoht, an' not da East Rivah, y'knowadda mean?

Needless to say, but say I will: after arriving back in Indianapolis, the drive back to cold, blustery Richmond was a joy. Really.

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Blogger Karen said...

It's a good thing the driver didn't take you back to the East River! ;-)

What a trip, Murphy really hit you hard, didn't he? It's good you lived to tell the tale.

02 August, 2006 19:00  
Anonymous cyndy said...

Wow I used to live on the East coast (well, I didn't really LIVE there, I was "stationed" there)....they are a totally different cast of characters, indeed!

02 August, 2006 20:19  
Blogger Monica said...

So I had the perfect comment for this post...but I'll be nice. :)

Good one, Skunk.

03 August, 2006 11:26  
Blogger Miss Cellania said...

Fish out of water, huh? Always nice to go somewhere that makes you appreciate home!

04 August, 2006 07:09  
Blogger Raggedy said...

What a trip...MH was alive and well for dat one...
There's no place like home.

Have a wonderful day.

04 August, 2006 14:53  
Blogger Serena Joy said...

Good Lord, what an ordeal! Like Raggedy said, there's no place like home -- and I'll bet you were deliriously happy to see it.:)

22 April, 2008 20:47  
Blogger Debbie said...

I see the problem: You didn't speak the language. It's always good to have a dictionary when you go to a foreign land so you can communicate with the locals, hee hee.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

24 April, 2008 14:58  
Blogger Little Lamb said...

I bet you were glad to get back home!

24 April, 2008 16:41  
Blogger Hale McKay said...

Boy, can I relate to this when I first settled in New England way back in '72.

27 April, 2008 23:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG This would so happen to me. Thank heavens my only experience with Newark has in the airport. Never made it out to the street. Now I know that is good thing!

Also, being a West Coaster, I always wondered how one should pronounce Poughkeepsie. Kipsie! Now I know.

Great accent by the way.

18 November, 2009 23:19  

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