Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Day Out of the Office

A colleague and I went to a conference in New York today, so I didn't have to go to the Big Corporation at all. On one hand, it's a nice change; on the other, it's a little bit of an ordeal.

I am always a little nervous about doing something other than my usual routine. An ideal work day for me is when I have no meetings, or at least, not very many, and none of them are at 9 a.m. I ramble in at a leisurely pace, get my coffee, read my e-mail and ease into the day.

Going to a seminar or a conference in the city makes it a big deal. For one thing, I have to figure out how to get there, which usually involves mass transit, since driving into the city is just plain stupid with the amount of traffic that piles up at rush hour at the Lincoln Tunnel.

I usually take the train, which means driving partway to the station, finding a place to park, then running at top speed to get to the train platform and catch the train. I am always afraid I'll miss the train, so I always run the last block or so even if I have time to spare. Then once I get into the city, I usually have to walk about, oh, 20 blocks, and arrive at wherever it is all sweaty and with sore feet.

Last night I considered where this conference was going to be and decided the train was just not the way to go. The place was much closer to the bus station so I decided to take the bus.

Now, you have to understand, I hate the bus. It brings out all my fears of abandonment. I stand on that street corner wondering if it's really going to come, or whether I already missed it. It's not like the train, where if anything comes, it is a train. And there are other people waiting for it so you know it isn't gone already.

The bus is different. You're often the only one on the corner, and there are other vehicles that come down the street. So every time a van or a truck or any kind of large-ish vehicle turns the corner and heads toward me, I start lifting my arm to wave them down. I accidentally waved down the wrong bus once and then sheepishly gestured, "oops, never mind."

I also hate mass transit because a miss is as good as a mile; if you don't make the one you're aiming for, you have to wait forever for the next one. If you're driving and you're a minute late, well, you're a minute late. If you're taking the bus, and you're a minute late, you're 45 minutes late.

Well, today I knew I was pushing my luck, and sure enough I got there and the bus had already left (according to a person standing on the corner NOT waiting for said bus).

So I said to myself, why not just drive? So I got back into my car and drove off. Sure enough, as I neared the Lincoln Tunnel, the traffic was lined up all the way back to Route 3 and I did indeed have to sit in the proverbial rush hour traffic. But all in all it worked out well, since driving your own car also means not having to wait for the next available bus when you want to get home.

I got home just ahead of some horrific thunderstorms that were moving inexorably toward my house. I rushed in, grabbed the dog and put her harness and leash on, and took her for her walk. As we walked, the clouds gathered. The sky darkened. The winds picked up. I felt the sense of impending doom! The rumble of thunder drew closer. And still Diva sniffed at each bush, at each tree.

"Come ON, Diva, it's going to rain!" (Sniff, sniff). "Diva, hurry!" (Sniff).

Eventually I was dragging her along at top speed as the raindrops began to fall and the wind started gusting mightily. We made it just in time before the skies opened!

So my trip to the city was a success. Oh, the conference? Very interesting! I have to say it was actually worthwhile. And at lunchtime I even got to go across the street and check out the M&Ms Store!

What an experience that is...three floors of M&M branded products, from lunch boxes to T-shirts and tsochkes like key rings and other paraphernalia.

On the third floor I hit paydirt: the actual candies. Just like in an old time candy store, you can buy M&Ms by the pound. They are in vertical clear cylinders full of colored candy; either all one color, or new mixtures that aren't available in the regular stores. I succumbed, and bought over a pound of a spring colored mixture of M&Ms and proceeded to sit there eating them during the last two presentations of the conference.

All in all, a satisfying day!


RUTH said...

I don't drive so rely purely on public transport. I know that will it come/ has it already left feeling only to well. Thanks for all your visits and support on my blog.

Liz Hinds said...

An M&Ms store?! M&Ms aren't a big thing here, but in Bath - and probably other cities - they do have a Cadburys Chocolate shop/cafe.

Glad you had a good-all-round day.

Hurry a dog who wants to sniff? No chance.

Icarus said...

Hi, I'll be back tonight to comment, but today & right through the weekend to Tuesday night, I'm definitely IN THE OFFICE & it's hot (hear the keyboard? the hum of an imaginative, fully-committed mind? The ventilator?).
I just wanted to tell you that I'm sure I can't remember you telling me that you'd been to REAL Portugal. That's 'cos my memory is getting to be a strange place (euphemism for lousy). Couldn't you write up one of your travelogs on it? I dare not!! Do they also do grilled sardines in Newark?
Later, enjoy today!

Mauigirl said...

Yes, they do make grilled sardines in Newark! They also have a street fair every June (it's coming up shortly). It is called Portugal Day, and the restaurants all bring their grills outdoors and make their Portuguese specialties.

I am definitely going to cover Portugal in one of my travel entries. We stayed at a lot of the wonderful Pousadas in lovely historic buildings. We've been all around Alentejo and of course Lisbon and its environs. The one place we haven't gone yet is the Algarve - maybe on our next trip!

Martta said...

Re: bus commute. You just described my day, every day! Glad it finally worked out, though.

Icarus said...

Have returned much later than expected & read the post in a print out. Which was nice!
I sympathise entirely as I absolutely loathe commuting & always have. Even before the roads got so full. It seems that regardless of the city or country, there are just more & more people out there, doing it every day. To me, it seems like a waste of good life. I don't mind ddriving it so much, but that's anti-social. The truth is, I almost never go into the city anymore in the week now and I can't remember the last time I did it at rush hour, as I have lived in the centre of London, Paris or Lisbon all my adult life. Till a year ago. But as all my work is on the pc & internet, I can get around the conferences with Skype.
I hate most the crowds in travelling, I just can't take being enclosed with hordes of strangers.
So I found it really fascinating to read how you go about it, that feeling of anxiety in having to depend on the vagaries of public transport. I cheered when you went back for the car!!
I have actually been in the Lincoln Tunnel a few times at rush is a is even less fun.
So you well deserved that pound of M&Ms!
As for your info on Portugal, i am so impressed. I LOVE the Alentejo best! And pousadas, that I know a lot about, from work & leisure. They are even better now that one of the best private hotel enterprises in Portugla manages them.
Portugal Day is 10th June, right? As Santo Ant´nio is the patron Saint of Lisbon, the city gets 2 holidays in one week! Now that's the week to do Lisbon!
But do NOT go to the Algarve without consulting me, promise! Try Madeira instead, more beautiful, less crowded. The Algarve stopped being really Portugal about 30 yrs ago. It's England with sunshine and beautiful beaches.

Mauigirl said...

Hi Stewart, thanks for the reply to my post and the comments on the Algarve. That was the impression I had gotten myself, which is one reason that we hadn't gotten there. I will definitely take the recommendation to try Madeira and anywhere else you recommend!

RUTH said...

Answering here as no comment box above (this is happening with blogger at the have to go into post options and allow comments) We are hoarders too; I mean you never know when things will come in useful do you! Besides if I tidy up I don't know where anything is! I work much better in organised chaos.