Mrs. Smith Goes to New York

The Arrival

I received the call to assist the families due to the September 11 attack on Thursday, October 25th.

I had made up my mind prior to receiving this phone call that I should not go on any New York assignment.
We were so busy with teaching all these disaster classes and training new disaster volunteers that I felt I should stay behind.

But alas, I did not blink an eye when asked to go and I accepted.

I needed a couple of days to clear up loose ends and made arrangements to take off Saturday morning,
October 27th. I knew that Sandy Lee, Janet and John West would keep things afloat.

I arrived around 2 p.m. at LaGuardia Airport. As I am getting my luggage off the turntable, I hear my name.
I turn around and, low and behold, there is a volunteer from Michigan.
She states that this is her second trip to New York and she gets us a cab. We split the fare.
She talks like she knows her way around and tells the cab driver which bridge we'd prefer to go over.

We head to the Red Cross Headquarters in Brooklyn. The cab lets us out on some busy avenue
and there is a park between the sidewalk and the Red Cross building.
I haul all my luggage across the park, muttering to myself on how glad I am that I'm healthy and able to do this.

We get to the side of the Red Cross Building and I am told that I must give the luggage to the guys who are in a 19 wheeler.
(I'll go out on a limb here and assume mom means an 18 wheeler. I know New York is odd, but.......)
I give them the bags and wonder how they can tell which ones are mine when I come back later to collect.

I get into the Red Cross building and my handbag is searched. Never had that happen to me before.
Felt like a criminal. I get into the building and check in hoping to get my assignment.
First things first; I find my friend Patsy Smith, who is in logistics and say hello to her.
We have a little chat, she fills me in on the things that are happening.
She says she has not been to Ground Zero and I tell her that I will probably not go there either.

Then I try to make my rounds with all the proper functions to get my assignment.
I'm told it is too late in the day and I should be here first thing at 8 a.m.
They give me a piece of paper with a hotel name on it.  I'm to go there, check in, and come back tomorrow.

I go downstairs to the couriers and told them I am trying to find a way to this hotel.
Some joker tells me to take the sub. We exchanged a few words, and then a courier took me to the hotel.
It was the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. The traffic was incredible. It was about 8 p.m. when I checked in.
I never heard of a hotel lobby being on the 8th floor. What a headache. I could not find a porter.
Hundreds of people were milling about in all their fineries and I could not get up to the 31st floor.

It was a comical affair, now that I think back on it.
The elevator opens, I try to get in with my bags, and by the time I am ready the elevator is gone.
Then I am finally in an elevator and the stupid thing does not go to the 31st floor.
I head all the way to the 8th floor and start again.

I finally make it up to my room, I unpack and look outside. It is then that I realize I am at Times Square.
I am looking right into the window of Diane Sawyer's Morning Show.
Below me is “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Rent”, “ The Producers”, “The Lion King”
and a couple of others. I rejoice over my good fortune and figure I can see a play while I am there.

My adrenalin is racing. I go down Broadway and walk around a while.
I see a young man, with long, curly, blonde hair in his Hanes underwear playing the guitar.
All he had on was his shorts, cowboy boots and his instrument.
Of course, I never have a camera when I need one.

(No. But someone else had a camera.)

I walked around, decide not to buy anything from all these vendors that are on the street,
because I just got there and I have three weeks to do this.
I go up to my room. It must have been close to midnight. I open my fancy bar and cannot decide what I should take out.
So I inspect 5 or 6 booze bottles before I decide on the one I want.
I put the others back into the slot and of course, then I read the instructions.
It clearly states, once you take a bottle out of the rack, you will get billed.
All my friends would not be surprised by this,


Farewells Epilogue