One Saturday night in mid July, I achieved a New York trifecta.
I cried on a city bus.
I cried on the subway.
I cried in the back of a cab.
I pour my sweat (hello heat wave) and tears into this city! On every form of public transportation!
It wasn’t an epic, unending flood of tears but rather fits and starts. I’d think I was done, drained the last reserves of my tear ducts, then start all over again.
Crying in public in New York City: no doubt a New York cliché
Want to achieve this I’m-a-REAL-New-Yorker-Now! trifecta? Of course you do! I’ll tell you exactly what I did, so you can too!
Step 1: Be a chronically late person. The sort of person who considers herself successful when she’s only 5 minutes late. The friend who gets told a fake arrival time, 15 minutes ahead, so that she arrives only 5 minutes late. You always show up sweaty and out of breath because you ran the last couple blocks. You’re that girl.
Step 2: Decide to celebrate you birthday on a party boat! You score press tickets for an electronic dance music (EDM) party on a boat. It will cruise around the East River exactly when the clock strikes midnight for your birthday. You’re turning 29 on a Saturday night, you have to do something a little crazy, this is perfect!
Step 3: Decide to work an event in New Jersey the evening of the boat cruise. It’s only a 15 minute bus ride from Manhattan, the event ends at 8:30PM, the boat leaves at 10PM, it’s perfect timing! What could possibly go wrong?
Step 4: Finish your event at 8:30PM, waltz through the parking lot toward the buses that leave every 20 minutes. Everything’s working out just dandy!
Step 5: Step on up to a bus that’s dark, but the drivers sitting in the seat. Ask him when he’s leaving. Here him say, “Not until the event is over.” Stare at him dumbfounded. Say something dumb like, “Wait, what? Huh? J/K right?” He is not J/K-ing.
Step 6: Tell him you were told by your employer that the bus would leave every 20 minutes. Watch him shrug, “No one’s gonna be getting on this bus until the event is over. I’m not driving an empty bus back to the city.”
Step 7: Breathe a sigh of relief. A group of your co-workers are right behind you, that’ll fill up the bus! Hooray!
Step 8: The group of coworkers arrives, but the driver still won’t let you on the bus. “I can’t leave unless there are 35 people.” You only have 26 assembled.
Step 9: Tell the bus driver it’s your birthday. Talk to his supervisor on the phone. Beg and plead with the entire bus company. Tell him you will pay the extra fare to make up for the lacking 9 people. Run around the parking lot trying to collect more people. TRY EVERYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF. (Spoiler: NOTHING WORKS.)
Step 10: Download Uber and consider paying $200 to get a car to take you back to NYC. That’s more money than you made working this event.
Step 11: Collect 29 people. The bus driver finally lets you all on the bus. He says he’ll leave at 9:20PM.
Step 12: Sit on the bus, on a shitty, orange plastic seat, under awful fluorescent lighting, surrounded by 30 (one more just showed up) people you just worked with, but don’t know well at all, and feel completely helpless.
Step 13: Start to cry. Just before the bus leaves, so you look really, really stupid. Cry harder because you know you look really stupid, in front of all these people, many of whom you just supervised. You don’t care. You’re going to miss your party because of this stupid, stupid job. Why did you think this would work out? What’s wrong with you? Think every thought you possibly can that will keep the crying jag going. Once you start, why stop?
Step 14: Feel the bus finally leave. Cry harder because you’re so close. It’s 9:20PM, the boat leaves at 10PM. You’ll need a true transportation miracle to make it.
Step 15: Your contact slips out of your eye. One of your co-workers jumps up and brings her finger toward your eye, seeming to want to pull it off your face. Recoil in shock. Refrain from yelling, “Are you crazy? Don’t fucking touch my contact!”
Step 16: Get your contact back in your eye yourself.
Step 17: Everyone on the bus has been trying to ignore the fact that you were crying, but the weird contact move broke the tension. Explain the situation to the bus. Everyone’s attitude changes from, “Crazy Crying Chick” to “Unlucky Birthday Girl”. Suddenly 30 people are all offering their advice on the best transport route. “You still have a chance, you could still make it.”
Step 18: The bus pulls into Port Authority. The doors open and you dash down the escalator, your co-workers cheering you on, “Happy birthday, Mary Lane! You’re gonna make it!”
Step 19: Sprint through Port Authority like a crazy person.
Step 20: Arrive at the subway platform out of breath and HOLY SHIT it’s a subway miracle! The F train is pulling in! Just the train you wanted!
Step 21: Get on the train. Realize it is re-routed to the A train route because of weekend track work. Fuck. So much for a perfect miracle. It’s 9:40PM though, there is still hope!
Step 22: Sit on the subway. Feel hopeful. Decide to transfer at West 4th Street.
Step 23: Get off the train at West 4th. Wait for the D train to come.
Step 24: No subway miracle. The D train is not coming! WHAT TO DO!? Jump on the next train that arrives, it’ll get you closer and you can take a cab! For every minute that passes, rational thought becomes less and less possible.
Step 25: Feel the train stop in the tunnel. Listen to the announcement, “We are delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.”
Step 26: Look at the clock. 9:55PM. You’re not going to make it.
Step 27: Start to cry on the subway. This is the start of your birthday. Everything is awful.
Step 28: Get off the subway at 10:04PM. You’re late. The boat’s gone.
Step 29: Get in a cab. You feel like shit. Your birthday’s already ruined, how are you supposed to salvage the night from here? Start to cry in the cab. You have to go meet your friends but all you want to do right now is go home.
And that friends, is how I spent the last few hours of my 28th year crying in two states, on 3 different modes of transportation, in the presence of about 100 people.
But the story has a happy ending! When my cab pulled up to the dock, there was a huge line outside. The boat hadn’t left yet!! Everyone counts on tardiness in NYC! My friends met me with a box of macarons and helped me wipe the mascara off my face. I managed to recover from my “EVERYTHING IS RUINED” attitude with a little food, followed by a lot of booze, amazing views of the city skyline, and an hour on a crazy dance floor.
A birthday miracle: the lead up was horrible, but when the clock struck birthday, everything was great. And I’ll tell you all about the actual EDM dance party boat cruise tomorrow!
As much as I hate to admit, I think all the crying might imply I’m not exactly thrilled a year older…I’m not exactly where I want to be at 29. How’s that for a cliché? Here’s hoping I get there by 30!
Do you have any stories of crying in public in New York? Or in any other city? Birthdays that were salvaged at the last minute? I’d love to hear them!