Suddenly, the big white van was surrounded by New York City cops with their hands cautiously hovering over their big black guns. Inside the vehicle, nine men and women, each one, bug-eyed and anxious, tried to explain the unbelievable behavior that resulted in this terrifying incident. “What the hell were you thinking???” the policeman yelled, as he shook his head in disgust after seeing the occupants of the van. Clearly, he had been expecting something or someone else- a suicide bomber with C-4 strapped to his body? Or, a rolling crack house driven erratically by a wild-eyed addict? He was not expecting middle-aged Yankee fans practically peeing their pants from fright and trying to explain why we were blocking the Queens tunnel in a rented white van. (Unfortunately, the situation was not helped by the fact that President Obama was in town for a luncheon not more than a mile or two away.)
What happened was we couldn’t find a place to park the van we rented so that we could all ride together from Pennsylvania to NYC for a Yankees baseball game. Additionally, we wanted to do the tourist thing at the Empire State Building so parking was a huge issue. Entrances to underground parking garages looked tiny from the perspective of a van when you are accustomed to driving sedans.
Our driver was an attorney and, generally, reasonable and not prone to rash decision-making. But, when he missed the turn on the congested NYC street and found himself without a way out of the entrance to the tunnel to Queens, the cacophony of advice must have been deafening from his well-meaning loved ones.
“Stop!” “We will get SOOO lost!” “The tunnel is expensive” “We’ll be late” “Where the hell are we?” And, finally, the critical bit of advice that, apparently, under duress, sounded like good advice……”Quick! Quick! Do a U-turn!!!”
That is exactly what he did—or tried to do. The space was not wide enough, he was turning into one way traffic (going the other way,) and, suddenly, we found ourselves wedged into a “compromising” position. Suddenly, our driver was undoubtedly worried about his law license and my sisters-in-law were worried about being shot as terrorists. I was wondering if it was an appropriate time to dig out my camera but decided they might think I was pulling out an automatic weapon. I decided to pass on the photo opportunity. Too bad… it would have been a heirloom video!
It didn’t take long for the policeman to shake his head in disgust at the stupidity of tourists (humanity?), point toward the entrance of the tunnel and mutter “Proceed….” We each breathed a sigh of relief and someone quickly grabbed the GPS to direct us back to Manhattan, the underground garage and the Empire State Building.
After that, New York Yankees—here we come! We shouldn’t get in any trouble there, right? Unless there’s a Red Sox fan sitting nearby….well, that could be a problem….