New York & Jersey City 2010 - Part 2

If you have not read Part 1, please click on the Part 1 link below to read first.

Part 1 - Days 1-2: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Part 2 - Day 3: Broadway Shows and The Invasion

Part 3 - Day 4-5: Statue of Delivery, Ellis Island, Going Home


Part 2 - Day 3 – Broadway Shows and The Invasion

Friday was the day that we had tickets to go to Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular. Our tickets were for the 1:00 show so we had plenty of time to sleep in if we wanted to. I wanted to. But the cats had other plans. At 7:00a.m., the cats decided it was the perfect time to play. They would start at one end of the RV and run to the other end together, trying to beat each other. Not only did the running wake me up, but they used me as part of the obstacle course. They would run, jump up on the couch, then on me, then leap to the floor, and under the privacy curtain to the steering wheel, and then all of it in reverse. It was like I wasn’t even there. So much for sleeping in.

Oh but as soon as I got up, then they decided to bunker down:

I got up and figured if we all got ready early enough, we might be able to make it to a place I wanted to try called “The Meatball Shop” on the lower east side of Manhattan, for lunch before the show. I got up and planned to venture out of the RV to the public showers. I haven't taken a public shower since junior high school. My thoughts and memories of any kind of public showering was of stalls with low walls, with shower curtains that didn’t quite reach across the entire opening, leaving a viewpoint for onlookers from one side or the other. If that wasn’t bad enough, at Kelly Junior High School where I went, the gym teacher, Ms. Curtis, stood on a ladder and watched you take a shower. With her clipboard in hand, she would yell from above, “Scrub under those armpits, Kane!…Use that soap, Smith!”. It’s no wonder I hated gym. I ask you, was that necessary? Do they still do that in schools today? That just seems like a terrible invasion of privacy. If nothing else, just plain creepy.

Anyway, this was my only experience at group showering. I hated it. So the thought of going into this public shower was not appealing. And yet, I needed a shower and knew it would revitalize me for the events that would happen for that day. I gathered together the things I would need: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and clean clothes. It was raining out so I wore a rain slicker that had been in the RV. I wore my water shoes so that I could wear them in the shower. If you’ve ever had a plantar wart on your foot like I had many years ago, you learn to protect yourself from catching those God-awful things from public pools and places like that. I can still remember the nail-size needle they used to inject into my heel. Because the heel of your foot is so tough, they can’t use a regular needle in fear that it might break. So the needle they use to numb the area is extra thick. And they have to work it in slowly, like stabbing a knife into you. Once they numb the area, then they cut the plantar wart out. I had a hole in my foot for weeks.

So am I going to wear my water shoes in the public shower? You bet! And am I going to make everyone else wear their water shoes to the showers so that they don’t get a plantar warts and bring them into my house? Yup!

I said goodbye to the girls and walked out into the cold, rainy morning air and walked to the showers. Chanting to myself the whole way there, “I can do this. I can do this.” As I suspected, there were 6-8 stall-like showers, all with shower curtains. I chose the one furthest against the wall, with the hopes that I would have privacy on at least one side. I set my clothes and toiletries down on the one mini-seat like bench in the stall. The tiles were cracked, the grout looked dirty and there was a used curled up Band-Aid on the floor in the corner. Yuck. “Maybe I can double up on the deodorant and call it a day” … “Nope. I can do this.” I turned the shower on and got in. It wasn’t until I was completely wet that I realized “%$#@, I didn't bring a towel!” I hadn’t brought my phone either, so I couldn’t call Dianne and say, bring me a towel. I finished showering and thought about what I could do. The only thing I came up with was to put the dirty clothes that I had worn to the shower back on to dry up some of the water. At least so that I could walk back to the RV where I could then towel off. And that’s what I did. After having to put my dirty clothes back on, I felt like I hadn’t even taken a shower. Ever put clothes on when you’re soaking wet? Then have to walk outside in the cold, rainy weather with those wet clothes on? Probably not. So let me just tell you. It’s none fun.

When I got back to the RV, I said to Dianne, “The three most important words I could say to you right now are: Bring…A…Towel!” I stood there dripping wet, my clothes were wet, my hair was dripping wet. After she was done laughing and saying OMG, she said, “Good thing you wore your rain slicker!” Funny. Until it was her turn. As she was walking out of the RV to go to the showers, I looked out the window and saw a man carrying a towel. I said out loud, “See, he remembered HIS towel.” Then I heard Dianne say, “Oops.” She came back in and got a towel. She almost did the same thing I did. No wonder we get along.

That was an experience I won’t soon forget. See, I told you I hate public showers. But what kills me is I did all that, only to find out that The Meatball Shop doesn’t open until noon and we had a 1:00 show to get to, so there was no way we could go there for lunch. So not only did I have a miserable shower experience. I also didn’t get to go to lunch where I wanted to go. Instead, we left the RV at 10:00a.m., walked 5 blocks to the PATH, got on the train to 33rd St., walked up several flights of stairs to the street level, hailed a cab to a place called “The Playwright Pub”. What was the draw to that place for lunch? Two things: 1) It was located 1 block from Radio City Music Hall and 2) It opened at 11:00 giving us plenty of time to eat, relax and get to the show on time.

The Playwrights Pub

After lunch, we walked to Radio City Music Hall and made it to the Christmas Show. I bought the tickets months ago and got front row in the mezzanine. They were excellent seats. I love having the front row. Nobody’s big head to look around. The show was the same as the last time we went which was about 2-3 years ago. The Rockettes put on a great show. And it’s such a great way to start the Christmas season. It gets you in the mood.

We left there and had 2 hours to kill before our reservations at my favorite Italian eatery in NY, Carmine’s on 44th St, near Times Square. The place is always packed. I had to make the reservation back in April! While killing time, we decided to go to TKTS in Times Square to see if they had any good theater tickets for sale for that evening. The only plans we had were for dinner at 5:00 and then we were free. If you’ve never been to a TKTS, this is how it works. You stand in lines that are a mile long for tickets for shows that are that day or evening only. Typically they are for seats that the theater didn’t sell. Sometimes you can get lucky and get great seats for great shows and at discounted prices. The last time we went to NY to see a show, we went to see “Young Frankenstein” and after, got in line at TKTS and got tickets for “Spamalot”. It was perfect.

This time, we got in line but didn’t know what we wanted to see. “Mary Poppins” was playing but Rachel had no desire to see it really. And if she didn’t want to go see it, I didn’t want to. She met the boy that plays the part of Michael Banks at the Performing Arts Youth Collective that she belongs to at the Bushnell. So it would have been neat to go see him perform in the play. But the Gods had other plans for us. While standing there, there are people that are handing out flyers for shows on and off Broadway, trying to entice you to buy tickets to their shows. One such show was “Rock of Ages”. The people behind us in line had gone to see it and thought it was funny. They described it as a must see if you lived through the 80’s and remember the music. I asked the husband and wife if they thought it was age-appropriate for a ten year old. The wife said there was one part where the rocker guy takes a girl in the back to have sex but you don’t see anything and that it would probably go over Rachel’s head. The husband nodded in agreement that there was nothing bad in the show that she couldn’t see. We also asked the girl handing out the flyer what she thought and she said that if I took her to PG13 movies, then she would be okay. By the time we got to the window to buy tickets, we had decided to go see this show. At the discounted price of $76 each, it better be a good show.

After we got our tickets, we went to Carmine’s and had a delectable meal as usual. Everything is served family-style and the dishes are quite large. But not only do they give you a lot of food, it’s fresh and delicious. And the best part, for NY, it’s reasonably priced. We started with Carmine’s antipasto salad and then had chicken marsala:

I had wine which is served in jelly jar glasses, not stemware. This makes it authentic Italian to me. For dessert we ordered Tiramisu. Most of which we brought home for leftovers. Here are some pictures:

After dinner, we headed to the “Rock of Ages” show. When we took our seats, the first thing Rachel pointed out to me was a sign on the stage that read: “Nude girls, girls, girls.” I said just ignore it. That should have been my first sign. When the show started, within the first fifteen minutes they had used every dirty word you could think of, including douche bag and dildo. And I thought “The Karate Kid” that I played for her birthday sleepover was bad! Ay, Ay, Ay!

I cringed at every line. If the language wasn’t enough, here was the plot of the show: Girl leaves home. Girl gets job in bar and has sex with band members that play in the bar. Girl gets fired from bar and due to desperation, she becomes a stripper. Girl dances on pole while being dressed scantily clad. Boy in show works himself up through the ranks, becomes a rock singer and has sex with lots of girls.

What about this subject matter says PG13? What part of this was supposed to go over Rachel’s head? The girl gyrating her thong up and down a pole? I was livid. But what could I do. Just when I was ready to leave a quarter of the way into it, Rachel said that she was going to take out her hearing aids and go to sleep. It was too inappropriate for her and she didn’t want to see or hear any more of it. I didn’t blame her. I asked her later what she thought about the play and she said, “Mostly it was inappropriate because of the girls wearing such revealing clothes.” She really is the parent, not me.

Not only was it not appropriate for a 10 year old, the plot was stupid, the music sucked, there was lots of gay innuendo, which I find tiring, and the writing was corny and awful. It was a show about the 80’s and yet not one character had a mullet. Come on!

In talking about the show the next day with Rachel, we all agreed that it had been the lamest show we had ever seen and that we should have gone to see “Mary Poppins”! Hindsight is always 20/20.

By the end of the show, I had an awful headache from drinking wine at dinner which had been hours prior. It had been a long day of taking public transportation, going to shows, and eating lots of food. Even though Rachel had fallen asleep for a brief period during the show, she was still exhausted. We all just wanted to get back to the RV to go to bed. But as you have figured out by the number of times I am going over the travel routines, this is no small feat.

We took a taxi to the PATH station because it was easier than climbing stairs to go into the subway. We took the PATH train to Grove St Station in Jersey City. All sounding familiar by now? We climbed the flights of stairs out to the street. As we started walking the 5 blocks to the campground, somehow it seemed different this time. It was now midnight and the streets were that much more eerie. The lack of people on the street on a Friday night was obvious, especially just coming from the crowded streets of New York City. Although we were all tired, the silence and sinister atmosphere made us all walk more quickly. There were three people walking in front of us: two men and a woman, all walking arm-in-arm. I couldn’t figure out what their story was but was grateful that someone else was on the street other than us, just in case something bad happened. But that was short-lived when the three of them stopped at an apartment building and went inside. That left the three of us – Dianne, Rachel and I – to be the only ones on the dark, limited lighting area of the street at midnight. I have to admit, I was scared walking that street at that hour. We had no idea if we were in a rough area or not. I had looked up on the internet the crime rate for that area before we left CT and according to that map, it was a no crime area. But to see this place, it could be a prime place for any type of crime because of the desolation and the glitz of all the boats in the harbor.

The closer we got to the campground, the more audible our steps and breathing seemed to get. None of us spoke, as if to not draw attention to ourselves, should someone be lurking in the shadows. We ramped up our footsteps, walking faster and faster, as fast as our tired bodies would take us. The gate that we had been entering through was locked so we had to enter through another gate that was a bit farther. We got in the campground and I quietly asked Dianne to get out her keys. We managed to get to the RV, opened it up, and with the last bit of energy in all of us, we hoisted ourselves up the stairs and into the RV. All safely inside, we immediately locked the doors. A sense of relief came over me.

It was now 12:30. I instructed Rachel to go to the back bedroom to get her pajamas on. When Rachel was in the other room, I told Dianne about the fear I had walking on that street and she too felt the same way. We both were hiding our fear from Rachel because we didn’t want to frighten her. But at any moment someone could have jumped out at us and we had nothing and no way to protect ourselves. Not a good situation to be in. After discussing it briefly, I felt better that we were in the RV, safe and sound. Just as I started to relax, a knock came at the door of the RV. Dianne and I looked at each other as if to say, did you hear that too? The person or persons knocking didn’t speak. They just knocked. Dianne and I froze in place. It stopped both of us in our tracks. It was 12:30 at night and anyone knocking at that time wasn’t selling Avon. Rachel was in the back bedroom and heard the knock and came up front to see who it was. She didn’t have her hearing aids in so she spoke loudly, “Who is it Mom?” I put my finger over my mouth as if to say “be quiet” and pointed for her to go back to the bedroom. But as with any child, she was curious as to what was happening. She went to speak again, but this time I shooshed her and demanded that she return to the bedroom with the quick movement of my arm and pointing gesture with a look on my face that meant I am not kidding. She started to tear up. It was no time to worry about if I was hurting her feelings. She needed to do what I told her to do. I would explain it to her later. If there was to be a later.

The lights were on in the RV and we were afraid to move. It was quiet for a minute or two and I was hoping that whoever it was had moved on. My first thought was that it’s someone drunk who is lost and knocking at the wrong camper. They’ll figure it out and go away. But then, another knock on the door. Again, just a knock and no voice to go with it. Whoever it was was not going away. Nor were they saying anything. I was certain that someone had been watching us when we were walking in. It’s a sixth sense I had walking on that street.

Dianne and I were standing in the kitchen part of the RV not knowing what to do. She slowly opened a kitchen drawer and got out a knife, the biggest one she could quietly find. We whispered to each other, where was the envelope that we had scribbled Joe Security Guard’s number on? It was upfront in the driving part of the RV. When camping in a Class C camper, the truck part of the camper while camping gets covered by a curtain. This curtain is hung in the RV for privacy so that nobody can see in through the front windshield or side windows of the RV. This is for privacy only and certainly doesn’t provide any protection.

If I lifted the curtain to try to find the envelope that we wrote security's number on, whoever was out there would most definitely see me through the windows or windshield. So getting the envelope was impossible.

Rachel was in the back bedroom, scared and started to cry. Dianne, with knife in hand, and I went to the back bedroom also. I got my new droid that I’m still not used to, and with shaking hands, I attempted to dial 911. As we were all back there, a knock came on the back bedroom window where we were. Now were we really scared! We could hear footsteps walking through the gravel right outside the RV. It was clear to me that whoever it was that wanted to come in, all they had to do was break the front window and they would be able to unlock the door and come in. I won’t lie to you. I was petrified.

I’m not pro guns, but I have to admit, I wished I had one in that moment. We barricaded ourselves in the bedroom while I called 911. After three rings, someone picked up. Whispering, I tried to tell the 911 operator that someone was knocking on our camper door and we were scared that they were trying to break in. They asked where we were located. I stumbled and couldn’t remember where we were. Dianne whispered to me, tell them Jersey City. That seemed to get me on track. I told the woman on the other end of the phone that we were in a campground at Liberty Harbor Marina but she didn’t know where that was. She told me she was going to transfer me to someone who could help. Hearing the footsteps walking around outside, I pleaded with her not to let me off the phone.

“Ma’am, I need to get you connected with the right people who can help you. Just stay on the line.” After 12 rings someone finally picked up. 12 rings! Do you know how long 12 rings are? It seemed like hours! But I’m sure it was only was only a minute or two, which was still far too long for me to wait.

A male voice came on the line. “Ma’am, what seems to be the problem?” I had to explain it all over again. “And where did you say you were?”
“Liberty Harbor RV campground. It’s across from Liberty Harbor Marina.” I whispered.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, I don’t know where that is. Is it in Jersey City?”
OMFG! Nobody in freaking New Jersey seemed to know where this place was. This guy was from some type of security group but not for the campground. “Now where are you Ma'am?”
“I’m in an RV, a camper, in Jersey City. The address is 11 Marin Blvd. Does that help?”
“Yes ma’am. Okay Ma’am, I need to hang up and call a dispatcher—“
“No, do NOT hang up on me!”
“Ma’am, I need a phone number that I can call you back at. I promise I will call you right back but I need to call the dispatcher to get someone out to you. What is your number?” I give it to him. “Okay Ma’am, I will call you back when an officer is at your location. Don’t open the door for anyone until I call you back. Okay?”
We hang up. At this point, Rachel is in full-blown tears. My whole body was shaking and Dianne had a firm grip on the knife, practicing how to hold it. First holding it in a stabbing manner like the killer in the movie “Psycho” did in the shower scene, then switching to a fencing position as if she would lunge at her attacker. Either way, she had the knife and was ready to attack whoever if they gained entry. Under any other circumstances, I would find her performance to be highly comical. But there was absolutely nobody laughing and this situation was far from being funny.

Not only did the police have to find the unknown campground. They also never asked what lot we were in or what type of camper we were in or anything. They had no idea where we were in the campground. That is, if they even found the campground.

Just as a slight bit of relief entered knowing that the police were on their way, and we hadn’t heard a knock in a few minutes, another knock on the window came. That’s it. We’re dead. I started looking at the bedroom door to see how we could barricade it. There was nothing we could do.

About ten minutes passed and we heard a car driving over the gravel. I peaked under the privacy curtain in the windshield and saw it was a police car with lights. The lights weren’t flashing but it was an obvious SUV police car. It was driving around but had driven past us. Of course it had! They never asked for the lot number or any information about where we were located! I waited for the phone to ring from the guy who promised he would call me back when the police got there. The phone never rang.

Our fear was that the police would drive off, not being able to find us amongst the campers. In a bold, yet stupid, move, Dianne said, “I’m going to run out there to see if I can catch him.” Before I could think about it, out the door she ran. I didn’t know whether to lock the door after her, because if someone was out there, wanting to get in, the door was open for them to come right in. But yet, if Dianne ran into the person who wanted to get in and needed to get back in the RV herself, I didn’t want the door to be locked. I wanted her to be able to quickly get back inside. I can’t remember what I did. I think I locked it, then unlocked it, then locked it again. I was completely panicked.

I peaked through the curtain once again and watched her run towards the front of the campground, knife in hand. I had a terrible feeling that I would never see her again. Rachel must have felt that way too because when she didn’t come back and there was no sign of the police coming, she started to cry harder. Rachel doesn’t cry often so when she does, it’s monumental. The longer we couldn’t see Dianne, the more worried I became. I didn’t know if she had brought her phone with her or not. Either way, my phone was not ringing. No Dianne. No Police. No Dispatcher. No Joe Security Guard. Nobody.

Rachel and I sat and waited. I kept telling Rachel it was alright and that she should lay down and go to sleep. I told her the police were there now and that Dianne was probably speaking with them. But kids know when stuff isn’t right. It was 1:00 in the morning and as tired as she should have been, there was no way she was going to sleep.

After what seemed like an eternity, Dianne knocked on the door. And before I had to make her verify that she was alone, she said, it’s just me and everything is alright. I opened the door. She looked incredibly angry. When Dianne gets mad, her voice raises 2 octaves. She came up the stairs into the RV, slammed the knife down on the counter, and said in a high pitch, pissed off tone, “You know what this was all about?”
“My credit card was declined. It was the Security Guard knocking on the door to get my credit card number!!!!”
“What the Fuck?!”
“Yup. I went running out there and the police had already left. Joe Security Guard probably told them everything was fine. When I got out there, I said to him, someone was knocking on our door and window, and he interrupted me and said, ‘Yeah, that was me. I’ve been trying to get in touch with you because your credit card didn’t go through and I need payment.’ I said, ‘Why didn’t you call me. We gave you our phone numbers when we checked in with you two nights ago. Why didn’t you call me? Do you know that I have two people in that RV scared out of their minds – all over a credit card?!!!!!’. He said, ‘Well Ma’am I need payment and your credit card was declined.’ I turned around and started walking back here and he said to me, ‘Where are you going? I need your credit card.’ I said, ‘I’m not getting you my credit card now!! It’s 1:00 in the morning and I have two people that are pertrified to be in that RV. I’m going back to tell them that it’s alright. That this was all over some stupid credit card information that YOU probably punched in wrong!” He said, ‘Well, I’m going to have to tell the Manager then.’ I said, ‘Go right ahead!!’ and walked away.”

I have never seen Dianne so mad in all my life. Rightfully so. We had called the police for what? We were scared out of our minds for what? Couldn’t he have announced himself as security? Even if he had, would we have opened the door to security at midnight? Probably not. But couldn’t it all have waited until the morning?

And here’s the biggest question of all. Remember how the dispatcher said he would call me when the police got there? He never called. We could be dead in an RV in Jersey City right now and nobody would know it. He never called back to tell us the police were there. He never called back to see if we were okay. He never called, period. Twice 911 hung up on me even though I pleaded with them not to let me off the phone. And nobody ever followed up with us to see if we were okay.

Never again. Never, ever again.

Okay, so I tell Rachel everything is okay and having Dianne back gives her comfort enough to go to sleep. Dianne and I sit down and rehash what just happened. She was undergoing an adrenaline rush and wanted to pack up the RV and go home that very instant. Had I not been so tired from the last three days activities, and all the walking and traveling we did, I would have submitted to the idea and we would have left. But I knew she was tired, she was just upset and riled up. We talked about the absurdity of it all. We had plans for the next day to go to the Statue of Liberty. Again, back in April I had purchased tickets to go up into the crown. The tickets have to be purchased well in advance, otherwise, you can’t climb to the top, you can just climb to the pedestal. I also booked this trip right before Rachel did a research project on immigrants last year in 4th grade and they did an exercise of pretending to be real immigrants and coming to Ellis Island. Ironically, I had booked this trip and then they did this in school. So I wanted to take her to Ellis Island on this trip while that exercise was still fresh in her mind. But under the circumstance of what just transpired, we agreed that we just wanted to leave. We decided that we would skip the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island this time around and first thing in the morning, we would get up and get the hell out of Dodge. It was around 1:30a.m. when we agreed that we needed to go to sleep. Even though we were both ramped up, we managed to fall asleep.


This concludes Part 2. To continue on to Part 3, (which includes my Kaneclusions), click on the below link.

Part 1 - Days 1-2: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Part 2 - Day 3: Broadway Shows and The Invasion

Part 3 - Day 4-5: Statue of Delivery, Ellis Island, Going Home

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