Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Tale of Times Square

This is a long post.  So grab your cup of cocoa and let me tell you a Tale of Times Square.

A couple of weeks ago we made a trip into Times Square.  It was one of those rare Saturdays when there wasn’t a million things on the schedule, the weather was not {quite} bitter cold, and we were all healthy.  This was the twins’ first trip to Times Square.

Elaine and Nolan by Train Stop

Our neighbor runs one of those vendor carts in Times Square that sells t-shirts, hats, scarves, and NYC memorabilia.  I wanted a couple of NYC items to use on our display table on deputation.  It should have been a simple, easy trip into Times Square.  It ended up being a seven hour excursion.

First, we were using a new stroller.  It’s a double-wide, which isn’t the greatest idea for the packed sidewalks of Times Square.  But it was our lighter stroller and the easiest to get down the train steps.  About halfway to the train stop I realized I had left the Ergo baby carrier at home (so that Nolan could ride and we could “wear” one of the babies).  Ben ran home for it, and of course it wasn’t where I told him it would be.  It was only the beginning of a series of delays.

The closest train stop to us is the end of the R line, so we can always get on a non-crowded train very easily.  We enjoyed a nice ride into the city.  When we got off the train we realized that things were different since our last excursion into Times Square.  They are doing a major transformation project on the Broadway plazas and pedestrian areas, so several sidewalks were closed off, and the others were narrow and packed.  We had trouble maneuvering through, but we finally made it to the other side of the street.

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Our next step was to actually locate our neighbor.  We didn’t know exactly where his cart was located, but we assumed he would be working it since it was a Saturday evening.  We walked up one side of the street, and back down the other.  Elaine was getting tired.  Nolan was riding on Ben’s shoulders (and turning into a plumber…I heard lots of snickering behind us), and he was falling asleep.  We put Nolan into the stroller, and I put Nehemiah into the Ergo.  It was getting darker and colder and we were getting tired, but we still hadn’t found the vendor.  Liberty happily slept through all of this, and everything that happened next.

I realized I could text a friend who might know where our neighbor’s cart was.  Sure enough – in front of Toys R Us – nearly the end of our big loop around Times Square.  If only we had started on the other side of the street!  We were actually still “lucky” to locate him, as they had closed to eat and his daughter (whom we had never met) was in front of the vending cart.

After getting the needed items we crossed the street, just one block away from the train station.  And that’s when it began.  It’s right next to the construction zone, so there were police barricades all along our right hand side.  Traffic was tight as the sidewalk was narrow.  And for some reason, the flow was moving in the other direction, but no one in front of us was moving.  We inched along and then the pack got tighter. 

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We were stuck on the far left sidewalk, but the project is in a different phase now.  We spent a lot of time in front of Sephora – the store with the black & white columns.

One woman started pushing into me yelling “Excuse me!”  I said, “Where would you like me to go?  No one can move.”  She continued to push.  Elaine was in front of me and couldn’t be seen.  I told the woman that I had two children and not to push.  Her reply?  “I have five.  You just have to push through.”  And that’s what she did – shove through. 

Another guy behind me started telling me to move Elaine because he “had to get to class.”  I laughed and said I had nowhere to go.  I really don’t know what he expected.  I was starting to get separated from the stroller.  People started jumping the barricades and walking through the work zone.  Where were the police?  Then people from our far left started pushing through to get to the far right so they could hop the fences too.  And the pack just started pushing and getting angry.  I handed Elaine to Ben because I was afraid she was going to get trampled.  People nearly fell onto the stroller. 

At this point I was getting upset because no one cared that I was trying to protect four kids – including two babies – they just kept pushing and shoving.  I was getting worried.  We had been at least 35 minutes on this block already.  Finally someone behind Ben started shouting, “Come on, there’s kids.  Move.  There’s kids.”  Someone in front of me sort of cleared a spot.  I walked backwards pulling the stroller through the crowd while Ben pushed it with Elaine on his shoulders.  We finally made it through but couldn’t easily reach the train station without more of the same.

We took the first side street and walked over a block hoping to cut around, but we just ended up in the crowd coming from the Rockefeller Center.  We took the first train station we saw and just figured we would make some extra transfers. After successfully arriving on the platform we waited for about 15 minutes before our train pulled in.  It. was. jam-packed.  Absolutely no way we were fitting a family of six, including a double wide stroller, onto that train.  The next one was the same way.

Empire State Building at Night
When we rounded the corner we had a lovely view of the moon over the Empire State Building.  It was about the only good thing that came from the trip.

We left the station, tired, hungry, and sick of the crowds {yes – we wasted a train fare}.  We made our way back to the McDonalds (hoping to avoid Times Square again, but it was the closest option, and easier to get to).  I have never eaten in that McDonalds before.  It is the biggest restaurant – the hallway of tables (on the first floor alone) just kept going and going.  There was a TV at every table.  We ate supper to kill some time, and then went back to the train after rush hour had passed.  Though the train was not as full, we did stand for most of the ride home.

Train Ride into Manhattan

I’m glad we didn’t get injured or have any other major mishap.  I didn’t have to come home and cook supper.  Elaine was a trooper and did a lot of walking.  Nehemiah was mesmerized by the people and the lights.  Nolan and Libs enjoyed their nap.  But I will be just fine to not return to Times Square for quite a while.  And when I do, I hope it is sans kids.

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