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Monday, 5 October 2015

NEW YORK NEW YORK


Once outside J.F.K. Airport I smoked a cigarette post flight trauma and I gave a short call to Olaf to let him know that I had arrived. Then I took a cab and I asked the driver to take to my final destination: “1st Avenue corner East 60th Street, please”. It was great to be in Manhattan again, the city that never sleeps had always fascinated me. Olaf’s apartment was at the 30th floor of a skyscraper facing the Queensboro Bridge, whose tunnels east of the 1st Avenue were converted into the Bridgemarket Grocery, a pretty convenient supermarket. The porter run at the door to open it for me and to wish me a very good morning, which sounded rather forced than convincing, I wished him a pleasant day as well and I quickly took my bags to the elevator.

***

Olaf had to be at his company’s office in the 6th Avenue from Monday to Friday, from 9am till 6pm, which gave me a lot of spare time. However I found plenty of things to do in the Big Apple to keep me busy during my two-week stay. On Monday I went to the ticket office in the Subway station at the corner of 59th Street and the Lexington Avenue to buy a weekly travel card. New York City’s subway is unbeatable: it takes one practically everywhere 24/7. I paid the ticket fee and the lady at the desk gave me my yellow card with the blue printed M.T.A. acronym, which stands for Metropolitan Transportation Authority. I was finally ready to start my sightseeing day. “I’ll go to the American Museum of Natural History first…” I was thinking while inserting my travel card in the machine. A few seconds later, the card got spat back but the gate did not open. I tried again a few times and at several machines but I had no luck, so I went back to the lady at the ticket desk. “Excuse me, the card I’ve just bought doesn’t seem to be working.” I told the M.T.A. employee politely. “It’s not possible!” She shouted back. “Of course it is possible! It does not open the gate!” I replied. Then the lady took out a portable ticket swipe machine from a drawer and she asked me to test my card with it. “As you see, it is not working…” I confirmed when I saw the red light blinking. “It is not possible!” shouted the lady again, with a voice volume that could probably be heard even at street level. Eventually she asked the man behind me in the queue, who was complaining about the stupidity of some tourists, to test the card for me. Finally both the man and the M.T.A. employee agreed that the card was indeed demagnetized and I was given a brand new one. “Surely New Yorkers aren’t famous for their manners!” I thought. After my trip in the Dinosaurs World, where I got to know the Apatosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus Rex, I went shopping on the Fifth Avenue, I continued shopping at Macy’s Department Store in Herald Square and on my way home I called at Bloomingdale’s. In the evening Olaf took me to an Italian restaurant in what was left of Little Italy and he made me upset, keeping on giving me tips on well manners at the table. “You should leave the knife and fork on the right side of the plate between three and four o’clock when you are finished…” After that, he managed to cheer me up again and he took me to some bars in Greenwich Village and Hell’s Kitchen.