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July 22, 2007

This past Friday, I accomplished yet another first for me in my new life as an East Coaster.

I drove in Manhattan.

Yes. You read that right.

The Big Apple.

It actually wasn’t nearly as scary as I previously imagined it would be (I think I can hear Art-Sweet snorting a bit – I teased her a bit when she drove us OCapalooza ladies last March). It actually isn’t much different than driving in any major city in America.

Turn signals are used to signify that you are in the process of changing lanes, not your desire to do so.

There are no such things as turn lanes, so be prepared to swiftly zip around the car in front of you while not side-swiping the car coming up in the other lane.

And they apparently don’t require taxi drivers to have a license. Honestly, most people on the road obeyed traffic laws and knew what they were doing and sometimes were even courteous. Taxi drivers, not so much. I swear I was almost hit more times by taxi drivers in the one evening I drove in Manhattan than by any other type of driver in my entire life.

Okay, so you’re probably wondering, Allison, darling, what the heck were you doing driving in Manhattan to begin with! Well, that’s a very good question. Friday was our Summer Intern Celebration, and the entire office, plus our NYC office and our affiliate companies all convened at Chelsea Piers bowling alley for some fun and food (and alcohol, though I did not partake, thank you). I was originally going to take the train into the city, but I missed the train by about three minutes (I could hear it as I got out of my car and I still had 3 blocks to walk).

I was crushed. My first office party and I was going to miss it. I couldn’t stand the thought of letting something as silly as driving stand in my way. Since I had a general idea of where it was, having looked at directions via the subway, I decided, what the hey, I’ll drive.

As I drove through Weehawken on my way to the Lincoln Tunnel, I was actually quite excited. I was almost giddy as I handed the toll booth lady my six dollars. I’m sure I was the happiest driver she had seen all day. Driving through the tunnel at one in the afternoon is actually pretty awesome. It’s quiet and traffic is smooth. On the other side, I really had no idea where I was supposed to go and I actually think I got in the wrong lane (I headed east instead of west). But I arrived at ninth and knowing that Manhattan is a grid makes it pretty easy to navigate. Ninth Avenue south, turn right on 25th, turn left on Eleventh Avenue, and voila! Signs to Chelsea Piers.

I must admit, I really did think I was pretty hot stuff for finding a place I had never been to in a city I had never driven in.

Leaving Chelsea was a tad more difficult. But since I had nowhere in particular I needed to be that night, driving became my activity. Drove around the East Village. No parking. Drove up Park Avenue. Definitely no parking. I feared for my car’s health on that road. Drove up and around Grand Central Station and briefly viewed the emergency workers repairing the disaster that formed after the steam pipe burst on Wednesday. Went down Park Avenue some more. Finally decided to find some side streets to explore to see if there was any parking on the Upper East Side. Managed to find an amazing spot – 2 hour limit from 8:30 until 7:00, but since it was 6:00, it took just fifty cents to park there. Woot.

I really do amaze myself sometimes. Okay, I know I sound full of myself, but I’m not. But if you were from a small suburb in Oregon who just drove around Manhattan for the first time during Friday rush hour and managed to find a parking spot to boot, trust me, you’d sound full of yourself too.

Randomly called up my cousin Evan (actually he’s my dad’s cousin’s son) who lives down in Chelsea. We met up at a bar about a block from his apartment. Talked about work and played around with our respective gadgets (my glucose meter and insulin pump which help keep me alive, and his Blackberry which does pretty much everything else). Who had the coolest gadgets? I think it was a draw.

I attempted to meander around Times Square, but Times Square is boring if you don’t want to shop or go to a play. In fact, there’s pretty much nothing else to do there. So I headed home, driving through Harlem and over the George Washington Bridge.

So that was my latest adventure and accomplishment. Another item to cross off my list. Of course, there really is absolutely no reason to drive in Manhattan unless I was in another similar situation where I had to get to Manhattan at a certain time and the trains just wouldn’t cut it. But I don’t foresee that happening anytime soon.

  1. Shannon permalink
    July 22, 2007 7:50 PM

    NYC…If you can drive there, you can drive anywhere.

    It really gives one a sense of accomplishment to drive around NYC and come out in one piece. It still amazes me that people can drive within centimeters of each other and not have an accident. In fact I’ve never seen an accident.

    And yes, public transportation is the way to go when traveling to, from and within the city.

  2. July 23, 2007 4:07 PM

    Shannon, isn’t that part of a song?

    Congrats Allison, that is truly a feat. When I first moved from Ireland to Boston each time I drove I seemed to get lost for at least an extra hour (and I’ve a great sense of direction). I’ll put it down to the COMPLETE lack of a grid and road signage in Boston.

    So now that you’ve driven in Manhattan what are you going to do next?

  3. Allison permalink*
    July 23, 2007 4:56 PM

    Hm. Right now it’s a toss up between taking over the world and learning to fly.

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