Last week, after making it back from blustery Kansas, I dropped Russell off at our terminal in Springfield, OH around 1am Thursday morning. It occured to me that I never posted a photo of Russell. I took this the day we traded the old girl in for the new one.
After seeing Russell to his motel room and wishing him good luck, I went in search of the room of my next trainee, Jospeh. I had spoken with him on the phone several times that day to co-ordinate my arrival time with him. He had already completed 86 hours of training which was a good thing, since I would need him to finish my trip to New Jersey then hightail it back to Kansas City by Saturday night for lacyunderall's surprise birthday party hosted by justamy. After helping him move into the truck, I drove a bit more while we talked and got to know each other. He was wired and ready to do some driving, so rather than finish-out my shift I stopped just west of Columbus and let him take over. He had taken several weeks off since beginning his training due to a fractured hand, so he was a little rusty, but I was soon comfortable with his ability to control the vehicle and crawled into the bunk for a nap.
We reached our destination in Jersey around 3pm the following day, far too late for us to get unloaded that day so we were stuck there until morning. I suggested to my new truckmate that we spend the evening in the New York City. While we got our things together, I snapped the following shot. Meet Joseph.
I began making some phone calls to my NYC peeps. First I called mybluenotepad (aka hope_sets_sail, aka AJ) who I hadn't seen since the Slint show in March. I knew he was suffering from a broken foot and had been reduced to getting around on crutches, so I figured the prospect of him being game for any non-essential walking was slim. He said he would call me back when he got off from work to let me know for sure. I also called queenkatieett and left her a voicemail. She called me back while Joseph and I were on the NJ Transit bus into the city. Naturally, the staggering draw of teh soopa was too much for her to resist, so dinner was agreed upon and I was to call her back once my feet hit the street in midtown. Over the course of the past 14 hours I had already given a condensed version to Joseph of How I Met My Girlfriend in addition to Why We Were Going To Kansas City. Now came the story of When I Met The Queen and he was becoming intrigued by LiveJournal.
I love going to New York City. It's even more fun when you're with someone who is visiting for the first time. You get to re-live your own "first time" vicariously through them. Sure there's a subway entrance located inside, but stepping out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown is a jaw dropping experience. 8th Ave is usually packed with yellow taxi cabs vying for fares among the people exiting the terminal. A short walk to the corner and you're looking down 42nd Street, its gawdy marquees and electronic billboards summoning you into Times Square. While I called The Queen and we quickly decided on Little Italy for dinner, Joseph and I strolled along 42nd toward Broadway. The convergence of 42nd with Broadway and 7th Ave marks the southern boundary of Times Square. While I finished talking with Katie, Joseph gawked at all the people and flashing lights.
Joseph and I then ducked into the subway entrance at 7th and 42nd to catch an "N" train downtown to Union Square, our rendezvous point with Katie before heading for Little Italy on the Lower East Side. The Square was setup like an outdoor bazaar with street vendors offering everything from hand-puppets to silk ties. The small tents were laid-out in rows to provide aisles for strolling through, lit largely by white holiday lights. The Empire State Building served as a festive backdrop, trimmed in green and red floodlights. We found the corner of 14th St and 4th Ave, our designated meeting place. Joseph and I smoked cigarettes and watched the pedestrians bustle about. Across the street was an entrance to the subway and soon I saw Katie emerge from the stairwell and begin looking around. I yelled her name across the busy street to get her attention, then Joseph and I crossed to meet her.
Hugs were generously given and introductions made. We descended the stairwell and caught a train further downtown to Canal St then walked east to Mulberry, Little Italy's primary restaurant row. It was left to me to decide the restaurant and since I had taken Katie to Benito's the last time we visited, I decided to take them to another place I love on Mulberry St: Il Fornaio. It's a very unassmuming and plain-looking restaurant but with awesome food and efficient service. Over some fine Italian appetizers and pastas, Joseph and Katie got to know one another and Katie and I got caught-up.
Stick two LiveJournal friends together for any length of time and LJ will weave its way through the conversations; recollections of past drama/scandal, elaborations on recent entries for the "whole story", journal recommendations, etc. By the end of dinner, we had Jospeh convinced to start his own journal. Hopefully sometime in the coming week, I'll assist Joesph in making that a reality and give him some access to the laptop while he's on he truck with me to write some entries. Once he's plugged-in, I'll be sure to pass along his journal name here for anyone who wants to friend him.
After dinner, we continued up Mulberry St to another one of my favorite places: Caffe Palermo. It's a great place to get an after-dinner dessert and coffee. Katie tried her first-ever cannoli while I strayed from my typical double-espresso in favor of a Kahlua mocha. After dessert, we continued on Mulberry St to Spring St to catch a "6" back uptown to Union Square. Joseph and I had decided to go see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and invited Katie to join us, but she declined as she was starting a second job the next day and wanted to get some rest. So we parted in Union Square and Joseph and I switched to an orange-line train for the commute back to midtown. We exited the subway, walked down to Radio City Music Hall and turned the corner.
We walked past the entrance to NBC's Rainbow Room entrance and into the plaza. A zamboni was just finishing on the ice and they were about to let skaters back in the rink. The plaza was packed with people as is to be expected this time of year, as the tree is lit and trimmed for the holiday.
After taking a quick stroll out the front of the plaza to view St. Patrick's Cathedral, we began walking west toward 7th Ave where we turned south and walked straight into Times Square, eventually arriving where we had begun several hours before, at the corner of 42nd St. We still had nearly two hours to kill before the last bus left the city for New Jersey, so we decided to hop on the subway again for a ride down to Battery Park for a night-time viewing of the Statue of Liberty.
It was a mess down there, with subway construction blocking access to the park all along its northern edge, save two makeshift entrances at either end. We managed to get into the park and made our way down to the waterfront. Without access to a tripod, I was forced to hop the fence at the water's edge to find an appropriate prop for the camera; between the zoom and shutter-speed needed to accomodate the low light, a steady and level surface was of utmost importance. But it was well worth the trouble...
I think I thought I seen her on 8th and Forty Deuce
-"She's Crafty", Beastie Boys
Joseph and I rode the subway back uptown to the bus station and still had 30 minutes before the bus left, so I took him north of the terminal along 8th Ave. This little strip of 8th Ave is all that remains of the midtown red-light district which used to thrive here before the restoration of 42nd Street in the mid '90s. Roughly three blocks on the westside of 8th Ave are lined with pawn shops, adult bookstores, peep shows, and strip clubs. On any given night of the week you can still walk the strip and be offered anything from drugs to sex on the sidewalk despite the increased law enforcement presence, in addition to the legitimate businesses behind the painted store-front windows beneath the neon signs. It's fun to walk along here at night, especially when the sailors are in town on shore leave. This short strip can provide all sorts of public entertainment: people puking outside bars, transvestite hookers, dealers, arguing couples, middle-aged men "cruising" the book stores. It was pretty tame that night, however. Joesph and I ducked into a couple of the bookstores and browsed the wares and media. Ladies of questionable attractiveness dressed in lingerie waited outside the "live peep" booths cat-calling the clientele.
When I visited this area of town last winter with my third trainee Mike, I had him take a photo of me that I still think was a great idea. Unfortunately Mike's unfamiliarity with my camera resulted in an out-of-focus foreground.
With 15 minutes to spare, Joseph and I walked back to the bus terminal and finally rested our weary feet from a night in the City. Simply put, Joseph fell in love with the City that night. In phone conversations with his friends and family, he's gone on and on about his night there.
As a side-note, I talked to Russell earlier in the day. Due to his mishap with the JB Hunt trailer, he was guaranteed a full road test before being given his own truck. He told me he navigated the road test with only one small over-sight on his part concerning proper lane usage after a turn. He also gleefully informed me that for his backing test he was given 20 minutes to perform a 45-degree backing manuever which he completed in under 5 minutes. In short, my record of start-to-finish student-drivers successfully completing training remains unblemished.
As for the rest of our itinerary that weekend, we were delayed in being unloaded the following morning and I was unable to attend the birthday festivities in Kansas City much to my dismay. I was to load in Clearfield, Pennsylvania that afternoon and take it to Oregon, with a side-trip into KC for teh Donna's surprise shebang, but it grew too late in the day for me to make that appointment and I was unable to get loaded until 10:30pm Sunday night when the first shift of the new week arrived at the plant.
It did, however, afford me a chance to visit with The Girlfriend in Dorksville... a suitable consolation to my foiled plans. I'm happy to report that it was such a good time, that taking photos were the furthest thing from my mind.
And so Joseph and I are en route to Oregon, where we should arrive by Wednesday morning if the weather cooperates.
Relevant Gallery album