As Uschi already detailed, our recent trip to New York City was a complete blast. We went to one of my favorite Broadway musicals, ate at one of the most fabulous restaurants, and saw a bunch of awesome sights that were both old and new to me. But there were a handful of, well, just odd things that happened.
It started on the train ride. Brooke and I were sitting beside each other chatting when the conductor came up to scan our tickets. Before he moved on to the next set of passengers, he asked me to quiet down.
“I can hear you all the way at the end of the car,” he said, matter-of-factly.
All I could do was gape at him in astonishment. I admit I do have a problem with modulation. This is in part due to a slight hearing impairment in my left ear that makes it difficult to tell the volume of my own voice. Though, I also routinely get loud when I’m excited. I’m honestly rather self conscious about it because as a child I was often made fun over this, especially when I would laugh boisterously.1 But I’ve ridden the train more times than I could possibly count and not one time since my first trip at eight-years-old have I ever been told by a conductor that I was too loud for the train. Brooke assured me a few moments later that I had been speaking to her in a completely normal level and expressed her genuine confusion at the conductor.
I was bewildered, but put the whole thing behind me until hours later when we were at the Gershwin Theater to see Wicked. We had confused the time and arrived just a few minutes late to the show. Because of this we had to wait in the wings until a scene change before we could be brought to our seats. I relayed this information to Brooke telephone-style since her position off to the side left her out of earshot of the explanation Huib and I were getting. And, since I had seen the show before, I followed up with a description of what was happening on stage.
Suddenly, cutting me off mid-sentence, I felt a sharp jab to my left shoulder and turned to face one of the theater staff who harshly shushed me and said: “You need to speak quietly!”
Once again I was stunned into silence and before I could react we were hurriedly ushered to our seats. It was only once we were settled that I could fill Brooke in on what happened. Yet again she assured me that I had been talking in a completely reasonable volume and in fact was practically whispering to her. But I was more taken aback that the guy had actually hit me, though, I don’t believe he intended to strike me as hard as he did. Still, if we hadn’t been whisked away straight after I would have definitely raised a bit of a fuss over it.
The following day at the Met the strange encounters continued. There are signs posted throughout many of the exhibits inviting blind patrons to touch specific items.2 One such item is a sarcophagus in the Egyptian exhibit, which I had indicated to Brooke as I simultaneously ran my fingers across one of the reliefs. While Brooke examined the different patterns carved into the sarcophagus, a security guard came up to me and lifted my hand away from the stone. Shaking his head at me, he said: “You can’t touch that.”
The facts are these: (a.) Standing directly to my right not a foot away was Brooke with her hands on the same exhibit. (b.) Uschi, in her harness, was sitting beside me to my left. (c.) The protocol at the Met when there is doubt whether a person is visually impaired and thus allowed to touch an exhibit is to ask them. My conclusion: I’m not blind enough to touch things, but Brooke is. At Junior’s the next evening I related the story to Abby who was appropriately outraged at the whole scenario.
By that point, though, any irritation I may have had about it had ebbed away to amusement and that is most definitely because of our trip to the Statue of Liberty. While going through the second security checkpoint to enter Liberty Island Uschi set off the metal detector. I’m more than familiar with this as a state employee and have long since taken up the habit of stating that she’ll set off the detector before I even recall her to my side through the device. Sometimes this means that I have to pass through the device again to prove I didn’t set it off and/or the dog will be checked separately with a hand-held detector. Instead, the security guard instructed me to go back through and before I could react she had ripped Uschi’s leash out of my hand. When I didn’t immediately back up into the metal detector, she got right in my face and physically shoved me backwards. After I stepped through a second time, I voiced my extreme displeasure, stating that I had clearly not set off the detector and expressing how inappropriate it was she took my guide dog from me.
Rather than apologize or even acknowledge her actions, she curtly responded: “The machine is very sensitive and we have protocols. If you don’t like the way things work, you don’t have to visit the Statue!”
Before things could get truly ugly, Brooke and Huib led me away. But we were all deeply distressed at how we had been treated and the guard’s attitude. Honestly, I fumed about it most of the day. Several weeks later I’m still pretty miffed about it, especially since I’ve reported the incident to the park management and heard nothing back.
Possibly the most baffling thing to happen was later that afternoon before we met up with Abby. Originally we were going to take a second boat for a cruise around Ellis Island. As the day wore on, the weather got steadily more crummy. And we were all starting to wear out from all the various activities — and walking — we had done, especially Cessna who was showing signs that her feet were in pain. Standing at the bus stop to catch our boat, I randomly just fell over sideways. I have absolutely no explanation for it. One moment I was upright and the next I was crashing towards the ground. After I picked myself up off the wet Manhattan pavement, we took stock of ourselves. We were cold. We were wet. We were tired. Cessna’s feet hurt. I’d fallen over. A boat ride just didn’t seem worth it and so we went back to our hotel and ended up taking a nap.
We never could suss out what exactly happened that landed me on the ground, but after all the strange and bewildering things that had gone on during this trip I’ve surmised that New York City was just out to beat me up. So, somehow it caused the whole of the Earth to tilt just so and it rose up and smacked me!
Certainly gives new meaning to the “mean streets of New York.”