The Night New York City Chewed Us Up And We Swallowed


Randy and I get along so well.

Except for when we don’t.

Traveling. Traveling makes Randy stress out and then I react to him stressing out and hilarity ensues. By hilarity, I mean we have had some amazing battles.

It only took 17.5 years for me to figure out that if I just let him get it out of his system and not react, then all is calm. At least that is how it seems based on the last two trips we took to Tennessee to visit friends. It could just be that we’ve gone there so often that Randy is no longer stressed by the trip.

I’d ask Randy what he thinks, but his response would be: What? I don’t do that.

Our most epic of all vacation battles happened in February of 2005. I turned 42 that year and for my birthday, we planned a long weekend in New York City with our friends, Tim and Diane. Tim had lived in NYC for 25 years, so it was nice for him to go back for a visit and it was nice for us that we would have a guide to take us to all the best places.

I just had a simple phone back then. No GPS. We didn’t even print out directions to the hotel we were staying at, because Tim knew where he was going and we were following Tim.

Shit went awry, y’all.

We had fallen a few cars behind as we drove into the city 3 hours later than expected. We were in a massive snow storm. Tim got off the wrong exit and headed into New Jersey. He called and said, don’t follow us..just go straight through the (unintelligible) tunnel and then…..dial tone.

We lost cell service.

I’m not sure which tunnel we took in. The Lincoln tunnel? We landed on Canal Street. I was driving. I had no idea where I was going. It was snowing so hard you could barely see and I had to get to 38th and Lexington.

It was driving down Canal Street that shit got bad. I was sliding all over the place. There were bike messengers riding their bikes in and out of traffic and a bunch of the store fronts had dead chickens and geese hanging out front. Just like the movies. Any New Yorkers reading this, stop rolling your goddamn eyes. We just have Kroger in my part of the country. Our poultry is stacked in freezers and they don’t have necks.

Randy was yelling at me to stop using the brakes and to downshift instead. It was the brakes fault that I was sliding. It couldn’t be that there was 4 inches of snow in the street. Also, I WAS IN FIRST GEAR.

Randy: Downshift! Stop putting on the brakes. That’s making you slide. 

Me: What gear do you suggest I downshift to? I’m in first fucking gear. The light is red. I HAVE TO PUT ON THE BRAKES!

I pulled alongside a policeman and rolled my window down and shouted ’38th and Lexington’. He said, turn left on the Bowery,  you’ll go down to 39th and circle back one block and you’ll be there. Don’t go over the Manhattan bridge.

That warning sounded dire to my Midwestern ears. Don’t go over the Manhattan bridge, you’ll be in a post-apocalyptic world and you will never survive!

The thing is, the cop meant RIGHT on the Bowery. Not left. It’s one way, I couldn’t turn left, but I was all the way over in the left lane. I had no choice but to go over the Manhattan bridge.

I slide very nearly sideways into Brooklyn. Randy was beside himself.

This is the worst trip we’ve EVER BEEN ON. I hate this city. I hate this trip and we will NEVER find our hotel. 

I circled around a block and pulled the car next to the sidewalk and turned it off. I turned and very calmly (not calmly at all) said to him. You are right. We will never find the hotel. It’s impossible. So LET’S JUST GET OUT OF THE FUCKING CAR, LAY DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK AND DIE. 

I told him that I had to drive back over the bridge. I told him that I was probably going to slide and I told him to NOT SAY A WORD when that happened.

To his credit, I don’t think he spoke when we slide down the bridge back into Manhattan.

I stopped at a gas station and animatedly told them my tale of trying to find the hotel in the Murray Hill area. The guy laughed his ass off. Told me to pull left out of the lot and to start counting street numbers.

By the time we reached 25th street, Randy realized that I knew where I was going and that we were, indeed, going to find our hotel.

I’m sorry. I’m such an asshole. 

I burst into tears and agreed that he was an asshole and told him that he didn’t get to apologize to me.

Tim and Diane beat us to the hotel. Tim was waiting outside for us and greeted us with: When you guys get checked in, Diane says to go right to our room. 

I shook my head: Nope. We’re going to our room. I’m going to need at least 30 minutes to yell at my husband. 

Randy looked at Tim and said: Yeah, dude. She’s right. I can’t even argue. 

He looked so adorable in that moment. I lost all the fight. I probably yelled at him a LITTLE in the hotel room, but it was no where near the full 30 minutes.

We had dinner at some Mexican restaurant that night. Randy and I were still keyed up from the trip and ended up going down to the hotel bar and spent a third of our budgeted money on cosmos and beer. We had no idea how expensive the booze was in the hotel bar until we got the tab.

The rest of the trip was fun, even though Randy and I both came down with a bug the second day. I remember walking blocks from our hotel to Times Square. We were both running a fever and leaning on each other because we were weak, but goddammit, we made it.

We went back a few years later with Joey. We went to Maine first and then Boston and then finally New York City. I drove in again. I told Randy that NO MATTER WHAT happened, he was not to say anything at all. ANYTHING.

We were going through some toll bridge and the signs clearly pointed out what lanes to get in. Randy pointed out what lanes to get in. I did not get in the right lanes. We ended up having to pull way over to the side while a toll booth guy, or maybe it was a cop, I don’t remember, came over and collected our money then helped ease us back into traffic.

To Randy’s credit, the only thing he said..and he said it calmly was: I told you what lane to get in. 

I kind of had to give him that one.





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  • HAHAHAHAHAHAAHHA! That same kind of shit happens whenever my husband and I go anywhere. The hell of it is, he KNOWS he’s irritating me when he does it and STILL cannot stop himself. Yes, I know it’s the next turn. Yes, I DO know what speed I’m going, and yes, I DO think it’s an appropriate speed to go into the turn. Yes, I know it’s a school zone 3 blocks from here; that’s why I’m slowing down but obviously not slowing down fast enough for you. Bah.

    • O M G

      That sounds exactly like us. Maybe we’re really the same person like the Tyler Durden/Ed Norton narrator in Fight Club. Which one of us is Tyler Durden, though? Can we swap from time to time?

  • I HATE the way Sheldon drives. Even when it’s just a 10 minute drive to my doctor I’m a wreck by the time we get there.
    I need better drugs.
    And I mean valium.

  • Ha! Yep, this feels like my first trip to NYC when I was 19ish or so. We were supposed to take an exit right off the Lincoln Tunnel (I think?) and didn’t and ended up in Queens. I was filming the entire thing and laughing my arse off while my friend yelled at me. I wish I could find the video.

  • Having been a professional driver (and motorcycle racer before that), very few people I ever rode with drove to suit me. I never have said much about it, though, because as a driver myself, I know that more pressure doesn’t help. People do some funny shit as commentary on other people’s driving. I saw my friend Jack get out of Briana’s B-210 after riding home from work in Sausalito and kiss the driveway in a display of how glad he was to have lived through the ride.
    Now I find that the more my eyesight deteriorates, the less I am bothered by the driving of the folks who are nice enough to drive me places.

  • I think that couples that DON’T fight when they drive together are like Bigfoot — impossible to find and most likely a myth. Quite frankly, being in the car where someone else is in the driver’s seat ALWAYS drives me crazy (no matter who they are), because they always 1) Go too fast, 2) Go too slow, 3) Tailgate, 4) Pass when they shouldn’t, 5) Don’t pass when they should, 6) Don’t know the best/fastest route to our destination, 7) Won’t listen to ME when I TELL them the best/fastest route to our destination.

    • They are also in the wrong lane, listening to the wrong music, aren’t paying attention, and letting other driver’s dictate their speed when they could easily go around them.

  • As crazy as it sounds you had what I’d consider the ideal trip. Except for the bug. You had a much more interesting time than the simple “We went with everything perfectly planned, nothing went wrong, and we saw a bunch of stuff.”

    My wife plans every trip in great detail, and it’s nice, but I find it much more interesting to just throw caution to the wind. Once on a trip to Cleveland I went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Since I didn’t have a car I had to take the bus, and it wasn’t until after I’d boarded the bus that I realized that I’d left my directions in the hotel. I didn’t panic. I just got off the bus at what seemed like a convenient spot, and since I knew the Hall was on Lake Erie I just started walking downhill. I found it, and also think I saw more interesting things that I would have if I’d had directions–like a giant stamp that said “FREE”, and a guy getting arrested.

    Later I wandered into the new botanical garden. And by “new” I mean “still under construction”. I didn’t realize it was still under construction until I was about halfway through and saw a “Hard hat area” sign next to the succulents. The plastic sheets and unfinished walls were kind of a giveaway too. If I’d checked ahead I might have stayed away.

  • I lived almost my entire life in NYC and NEVER PLANNED TO BUY A CAR – Manhattan was super-easy to get to from my little apartment (2 blocks from the train) in Brooklyn; parking SUCKED CRACKHEAD ASS (my mother once drove around my neighborhood after work looking for parking for NO LESS than 45 min. Needless to say, I get my penchant for profanity from HER); the Belt Parkway always disintegrates to tire- and axle-crushing Land of Potholes. I live in the ‘burbs now and no matter how much I miss the conveniences & excitement of NYC, my car will NEVER drive on Manhattan streets.

    If it makes you feel any better, my cousins wound up in Pennsylvania after they picked my grandmother up at Newark Airport. They are also lifelong NYC-girls so I was like, ‘WTF!? How did you not notice that you were driving to PENNSYLVANIA!!??’ :/

  • I become an obnoxious maniac when I drive in NYC (not that I have the opportunity to do so anymore, because I live 3,000 miles away from there now, for which I believe all of Manhattan is still expressing their gratitude), and my husband could NEVER drive to suit me when we went there. Mostly now I let him drive wherever we go. His job is to drive, my job is to make remarks about his driving and give directions, both of which he ignores. But I’m the one who’s not a great traveler and gets really uptight (more so than I am on just an average day at home).

    • Hahaha. Funny…

      I’m the one with anxiety, yet I’m the one who does the driving in strange places. My anxiety isn’t usually triggered by fact I love it. Mine is triggered by the other humans more than anything. I think Randy has a little more issues with anxiety than he’d like to admit..

      • My anxiety has to do with personal safety more than anything. And because I can be anxious about personal safety anywhere, it’s constant. Yay! I’m trying to love travel–I’m trying very hard to become a good traveler for the sake of my kids. I really don’t want them to grow up afraid to go to a new or strange place and possibly experience awesome things, just because I transferred my anxiety disorder to them.

  • Shit. I don’t even like driving in the suburbs of California. You’re my hero. My favorite line was: “LET’S JUST GET OUT OF THE FUCKING CAR, LAY DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK AND DIE.” That had me cry-laughing.

  • You two are adorable… and the fights, I wish I was a fly on that car seat. My guy and I get in those fights too, but I worry I’m always the meaner one. Well, he has his moments, but usually the fight ends in us getting ice cream as a peace offering, so I can’t complain.

    Oh, and the part about just laying on the sidewalk and dying? Epic. Love it. I hope you had a chuckle over that once the anger had subsided 🙂

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