My friend and former corporate communications colleague Elyssa asked for my help to do some podcasting at the 2008 Asian Leadership Conference our company was co-sponsoring in New York City, so...let me break it down how it went down...
- I woke up at 4:30 so I could shower, shave and dress to catch the 5:56 a.m. Amtrak train to Manhattan
- There was an accident on the bridge over the Hudson, with the resulting back-up causing me to arrive at the station parking lot at precisely 5:56 a.m.
- Amtrak being Amtrak, the train was posted as running twelve minutes late
- Math whiz time: The 5:56 train arrive at 6:20
- Twelve-minutes says what?
- The seat in front of me was occupied by the foulest human being I have ever encountered in my entire life. In addition to winning the cosmic lottery for the most undesirable genetic traits you could possibly imagine (we're talking U-G-L-Y that the Devil wouldn't touch), he snored and farted the entire trip
- I donned my headphones and pulled my cashmere sweater from Italy up over my mouth and nose, relying on my lingering Chanel Egoiste to see me through ( I once had a similar experience at a 1:00 a.m. post-Cirque Du Soleil moment in Harlem at the 125th Street Metro North station where only the lingering smell of the hand-cream in my treasured Takashimaya three-sided shopping bag kept me from hyperventilating and fainting)
- Then we reached the rail bridge into Manhattan where we ended up sitting for nearly an hour because a faulty bridge switch sensor or some damned thing was malfunctioning - during which time no less than 20 other Metro North and Amtrak trains whizzed past us like we were the retarded kid in gym class
- Note to self: The clientele may steal your shoes when you're asleep on Metro North, but their trains were moving
- Gorgo the smog monster in the next seat went back to snoring and farting
- It was at this point I realized that I had left my cell phone in the car
- We finally arrive at Penn Station at 8:35 - presumably just moments before the 7:00 a.m. train I could have taken would have arrived
- God, I hate Amtrak
- I was supposed to have met Elyssa at 8:15
- I had to use our company's 800 number to reach someone in my office to look up Elyssa's cell phone number
- The only working pay phone at Penn Station is in a Sbarro's pizza joint playing hip-hop at full volume for your morning enjoyment
- I finally reached her and then caught a cab to go to the hotel near Battery Park (for those of you who aren't familiar with Battery Park - the only thing farther south is New Jersey...or Florida)
- Apparently, Muqtada al-Sadr's forces have left Iraq and are focused on destroying the West Side Highway, causing me to spend yet another hour in an overheated taxi cab that smelled of B.O. and Cardamom - I'm not judging, just saying.
For all I know, Elyssa could have had Dengue Fever or Berri-Berri.
Trying to put the best face on things - we settled in and tackled the buffet. Surprisingly, the Marriott Downtown (see "Jersey") has a unique take on "ethnic" foods. While I enjoyed some amazing Asian food today - remember, it's the Asian Leadership Conference - there were such amusing additions as knishes and cannolis mixed in with the soba noodles, pork buns and thousand year old eggs for an amusing ethnic counterpoint.
Note: I did have the most AMAZING steamed pork buns I've had since leaving San Francisco. I wanted to seduce the chef - keep me in Char Siu Bao and I am anyones little lotus flower.
Anyway - as the day went on, poor Elyssa worsened. First, our list of targeted attendees and luminaries were largely absent or unavailable for podcasting. We made the best of it and recorded as many attendee interviews as we could - but through the process, Elyssa continued to decline.
By early afternoon, Elyssa was nearly a vegetable. She drank pots of tea and ate spicy Asian delicacies to no avail. At one point, we realized she had been sitting in the same spot doing nothing for an entire hour.
We finally decided to call it a day and shared a cab, dropping me at Penn Station well in advance of my train's departure time.
To their credit, my Amtrak train left on time and was only 15 minuted late arriving at my final destination. During the ride, I edited our podcast material - only once accidentally yanking out my headphone plug and treating my fellow passengers to a boring analysis by a senior vice president of the business opportunity provided the global economic downturn.
When I finally arrived home. as I always do after a day in Manhattan, I peeled off my clothing, jumped in the shower and washed the grime and stress of the city away.
I poured a vodka tonic and sat down to reflect upon my day - knowing that a brighter and more glorious day awaits me tomorrow. It's Friday. And I will be working from home in my pajamas and fluffy slippers.
No shaving, no Amtrak...just me, a weekend in the offing, and my weekly Friday early cocktail hour.