Friday, February 19, 2010


We had booked our return flight for Tuesdeay, the sixteenth. New York had us from one Tuesday to the next and just as we had squeaked in before a snowstorm that would close down the city our return flight was headed for the same iffy situation only in reverse. Squeaking in was great. Squeaking out was not what the city had in mind for us. Monday’s forecasters for the following day talked snow, but not in the way the weatherman had threatened on our in-coming adventure. We had spent Monday evening packing bags in between glimpese of lugers and skiers at the Olympics. Snow seemed to be a problem in both places, we had too much and they had too little. We were scheduled for our direct flight back to Madison at 11:43am and arriving in Madison at 1:22 in the afternoon. The snow was scheduled to begin falling around midnight on Monday and to have petered out by noon just as we were scheduled to depart. I went to sleep packed and ready with the voice of Bob Costas sitting in a ski lounge in front of a blazing fire promoting the upcoming Olympic events. When I woke I could see the snow falling in big flakes outside the window, the big wet ones that stick to your clothes and form piles of slush on the sidewalks. It didn’t look too devastating but now the weatherman on the morning news program was hinting at a little more snow than they had been talking about the night before. Then the phone rang. Rick had just gotten a call from Delta. They flat out cancelled our flight, no delay, just gone. We called the airlines and asked what we should do. It was now getting close to the time we should have been leaving for La Guardia. The agent on the other end of the phone found us a flight going through Minneapolis, the only problem: it was scheduled to leave an hour and forty-five minutes ahead of our original flight; not going to work, Rick hadn’t finished packing nor had a chance to get in the shower. We calld back.
“Oh, I’m so sorry we don’t have any more flights out of La Guardia but let me see if I can find something else. Can you fly out of any other airport?”
“Sure, why not.” The why not was a little riskier. Our client still hadn’t gotten us our check ( the one we were supposed to be using to finance our trip) and we were now traveling on our good looks alone. We both knew that wasn’t going to get us very far. We knew we had the cab fare to LaGuardia plus the extra $25 to check our bag, one of those new extra charges the airlines kept adding to keep their fares down and my pocket empty.
“I’ve got you on a flight leaving Kennedy at 11:30 with a transfer in Detroit.”
We said okay, hung-up, and Rick got on the computer to do a final check on his bank account to make sure we had enough money in the account to cover the added fare to Kennedy. There it was, right on the screen, overdrawn. How could this be. We were itemizing everything. Then we saw it. We had to borrow money from my mom’s account to cover the snafu with the check from our client. We had given my sister a check to cover the money we had borrowed but told her not to deposit it until we were sure our client’s check had cleared which we thought wouldn’t be any later than Thursday. She heard don’t deposit it until Thursday. It was Monday. She had deposited the check. Now we were really penniless. I had taken all the money out of my account to purchase some fabric we needed for another client. Now the meter on both our accounts read zero, Then the phone rang again. The automated voice of Delta came on to let us know our 11:30 had been cancelled and we were now on a 2:30 flight. We dicide not to rush into packing, the odds of us leaving were starting to stack up against us. We didn’t want to leave anyway. Then phone rang again, 2:30 was gone and rescheduled as a 4:06 and just as quickly the 4:06 went down and was replaced by a 6:55. The afterenoon was ours. I put on my heavy coat and walked out into the wet snow for one more trip into the city and a walk around midtown as I mulled over how to deal with the money thing. Somewhere around 30 Rock I called my sister to warn her about the check and to guilt her into helping me out.
“Boni, can you put a hundred dollars in my account and don’t write any checks for mom against that money we borrowed until I tell you we have received our check and it’s cleared.”
It worked. She ran out and stuck a hundred dollars in my account.
A sigh of relief seeped out of me as I continued down Fifth Avenue smiling at all the mannequins in the department store windows. The phone made its last attempt at keeping us in New York for one more day. Our 6:55 to Detroit had been postponed to 7:50 making our connection to our Madison flight impossible. They offered to put us up in Detroit for the night. We demured. New York had won and we got the prize, another full day in New York. I went back to Queens satisfied. The R train Steinway exit put me right at a Walgreens Drug Store. I decided a container of mint chocolate chip ice cream was a justifiable reward. I grabbed a container of Edy’s from the freezer and took my place in line. I got out my wallet ready to swipe my card with the newly deposited hundred dollars…metro card, driver’s license, outdated borders rewards card, free bag of dog food with ten purchases punch card…SHIT! No debit card. Then it all dawned on me. Rushing to get the money for the fabric that had emptied out my account, I had gone to a bank with one of those ATMs that swallow your card until your transaction is complete. I had been so glad I had enough money to cover the purchase I just grabbed the paper cash and ran totally forgeting the damn card and stabbing a stake into my financial fortune. There I stood, no card, no money and a dripping quart of mint chocolate chip. With my tail between my legs I slunked out of line, put the ice cream back and dragged myself back up the three flights of stairs to try and figure out what I should do next.
After empting all the crumpled receipts out of my bag I found the one I’d used at the bank with the card eating ATMs. My plan: rise at 6:00, shower, scrap together subway fare to the fashion district and back to Queens, be at the bank at eight, retrieve my card (unless someone else took it), and be back to Queens in time to get a car service to the airport.
6:30 – up with the sun, shower – only tepid water, dressed – day old clothes (I’d only packed for seven days), $4.50 – just enough to get there and get back, the bank – the door unlocked promptly at eight (just like a bank), and I was in. I ran up to customer service, my receipt and identification in hand. The bank service agent scrutinized my evidence and asked me to wait while he went to see if my card was there. He came back carrying a binder with a three ring pouch inside. Back at the customer service desk he opened the binder and then unzipped the pouch. Fifty plus cards tumbled out and there on top was mine.
“I guess I’m not alone.” He smiled as he shuffled the remaining cards back into the pouch.
New York had decided to temporariy release its grip on us. A part of me wished it wouldn’t.

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