Welcome to the Jungle

January 24, 2008

One of my favorite rock songs has now become my theme song for what is also known as the Big Apple. When I first arrived in New York City, a fellow opera singer hailed my arrival with “Welcome to the Jungle!”. I laughed it off, but now, 4 months later, I realize how grossly I underestimated her description of the city. I have now come to embrace this description so dearly, that I almost named this blog “Welcome to the Jungle”, but considering I will post about other things than the city, I engaged the witty brains of my husband to think of a name. I can always count on him for succinct, clever copy. Brevity has never been my forte, so we’ll see how this blogging thing goes. I was forced into it by my aforementioned husband, who was so entertained by my daily musings, he convinced me I should share it with anyone who cared to read. So, if you are reading this, thank you. I appreciate your patronage. Hopefully, I will do a decent job of keeping it updated, brief and adequately entertaining.

Yes, New York is a jungle. My first realization came when I boarded the subway. Now, I consider myself a well traveled person. I have lived in Europe, traveled to Australia, and ventured across both our northern and southern borders. I have maneuvered airports in countries where I didn’t speak the language, managed to find the correct train, leaving from the correct platform at close to the correct time in Italy (that is quite a feat). I have enjoyed the public transportation systems of Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden and Munich.

But nothing prepared me for the New York subway system.

One would think that in the “city that never sleeps”, where time is money, where impatience is the virtue, that the main mode of transportation would have some semblance of order, punctuality, common sense! Alas, no. In my first two weeks here I managed to board at least 2 trains a day going in the opposite direction than I wanted because I could not understand the asinine, abbreviated signs above the platform. Though written in English, no person could understand. I manged to miss at least 1 connection a day due to several factors 1)the train conductor simply chooses not to inform their passengers of the next stop 2)the train conductor speaks with such a heavy accent, and so quickly that no one can understand them 3)the speaker is turned down too low and crackles 4) combination of 2&3 and 5)the train suddenly runs express with no warning (meaning it doesn’t stop at every stop). Now, granted, the hoity, toity trains running up the East Side came to the realization that having a computerized voice in conjunction with a computerized scroll board announcing the next stop was ingenious. Too bad the rest of the city can’t enjoy such a luxury. Those poor tourists!

The other thing I realized in my first few weeks here is that the train/bus comes when it comes. Where time is more important than money, one would hope one could count on a train/bus to come at it’s appointed time. Alas, again, no. After my many years of German transportation with signs that tell you how many minutes away the next train is, the land of outraged people should a train/bus arrive 10 seconds late, I had arrived in the United States version of Italy. I can’t even count the number of events I was late to, because I actually expected the trains to run on time. How naive of me.

And my final beef with New York’s subway system… Somewhere in the planning stages, it escaped the minds of the engineers that people might actually want to go from the east to the west side and vice versa on a train north of 42nd Street (for those not familiar with New York, Manhattan extends to roughly 220th Street). Instead, these unfortunate souls (yours truly included) must resign themselves to getting on a bus to go “crosstown”. Mind you, in a normal city, this may not be a big issue, but in New York rush hour, it is faster for me to walk across the park than take the bus.

For it’s ills, New York’s transportation is convenient as far as getting you where you want to go – just don’t expect to get there fast.

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4 Responses to “Welcome to the Jungle”

  1. Munsy Says:

    Woo hoo! You’re up and running Baby! Way to go!

  2. tellinghistory Says:

    About dang time you launched a blog! Now we can keep up with you, your career, and the jungle.

  3. Mom Says:

    I’ve checked your site for errors (HA! Isn’t that just like me!!). JUST KIDDING!

    I like it ALL! Way to go, you and Tim. This is great.

    Love you.

  4. Smitty Says:

    Hey good to see you out here blog world! This is gonna be awesome!

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