I owe New York City $6.50. That is the fee that they charge for the privilege of crossing the George Washington Bridge. I suspect that it’s really a donation to the Governor Spritzer “Pleasure Fund.” The news reported that he paid this particular supporter over a thousand bucks an hour. That’s like what maybe $32 for the best two minutes of his life? And she might be asked to do something “uncomfortable.” Based upon the women I know, that probably meant killing spiders in the bathroom but I digress.
Business brought me down to Orangeburg, N.Y., recently. I decided to take advantage of the proximity to the Big Apple to deliver a rug to my son Jim’s apartment in Brooklyn. This was my first visit to his newest home and I had no idea how to get there. So, like the rest of us city-challenged folks, I tapped into Mapquest for directions. The plan was to meet up with Jim at 6:30 a.m., before work for him, and also leaving plenty of time for me to reach my scheduled meeting back in Orangeburg. I figured this wee hour would also make it easier for me to wander about the unfamiliar surroundings of New York City.
From my opulent accommodations at the Holiday Inn, I headed for the Palisades Parkway (along the way, I found myself humming an old Freddy Cannon tune). The Parkway brought me from Orangeburg, N.Y., to New Jersey which struck me as an odd course to take to get from New York to New York City.
At the end of the road, I was forced to cross back into New York across the GW Bridge. I was disoriented by the alien surroundings and the pre-dawn hour, and soon found myself holding out a useless $10 bill at the EZ PASS detector. Without any other choice, I passed straight through like a scofflaw, creating the $6.50 obligation mentioned above.
My discomfort grew as I turned onto route 87. The first few exits were directed toward Yankee Stadium uh oh enemy territory. Quickly, I took stock of my truck. No Red Sox bumper stickers, but I pulled the blue cap with the red ‘B’ off of the dash board just in case.
As I maneuvered from 87 to route 278, I managed to traverse a zillion other bridges: the Triboro, the Tallahassee, the Golden Gate, and I don’t know what, before finding myself exiting into the borough of Brooklyn.
Jim’s neighborhood looked more like some areas of Boston (like Southie, for instance), rather than the immense pillars of concrete, glass and brick that I ordinarily associate with New York City. The streets were lined with rows of older multiplex homes built no more than a few feet apart, and every block held small shops and restaurants many open even at 6 a.m.
I found Jim’s apartment and we hugged each other on the sidewalk before unloading the carpet. He brought me on a brief, and very quiet (his roommate was still sound asleep) tour of his place. The bedrooms were situated upstairs with an open area holding their kitchen/dining room and living area one flight below It was as neat as one might expect without a woman on the premises. Can you picture a state-of-the-art entertainment system set up amidst a rubble-strewn street in Basra? Jim opened a nearby door to show me their compact backyard. This is actually a bit of a misnomer, as a concrete pad filled the entire space, substituting for a lawn. Tough to play badminton but ideal for maintenance, I’d expect.
We embraced again, and I started my trek back from Brooklyn to um New York? By now the sun was up, which aided my navigation, but so were a ton more commuters, which did not help at all. I reversed direction and managed to pass through all of the correct toll lanes, thereby settling my debt at the $6.50 final tally. I’ll try to explain my malfeasance to the stone-faced toll collector next time through. The entire return was so quick that it would have only cost the governor another $750.