Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Ride Continues

"The test of any man lies in action."
If the above is true, I think I passed the test awhile ago.

A lot of people have been checking with me over the last few days, wondering a) where I've been; b) what I've been doing; c) how I've been handling the quasi-resolved Transit Strike; and d) what I'm doing over the next week to ten days.

The first question, ie where I've been, is somewhere in a daze, quietly making rounds all over the city. Most of my time has been spent downtown, running around between the Department of Buildings and some other City agencies. The 15th was a deadline to submit paperwork to one department; however, we've been waiting -- for about six months -- for said agency to issue other paperwork, and since my clients have a closing that needs to take place prior to the end of the year -- and which closing requires said paperwork to be issued by said agency -- the term "fever pitch" is a mild understatement. Suffice to say that the word "pressure" is barely scratching the surface.

So, at least as far as work is concerned, that's where I've been -- locked in a battle between bureaucracy, paperwork, deadlines, clients and aggravation. I don't blame my clients, as they've been relatively patient -- but bouncing around from one city agency to another to another is taking its toll and leaves one feeling weary and spent.

That also pretty much answers the "what have I been doing" question.

As far as the Transit Strike, it wasn't quite as awful for those of us who live in Manhattan -- a bit pricey, perhaps, but not altogether awful. Essentially, since a lot of my work involves telephone calls, paperwork and communication, I was able to sideswipe the early-morning pain of trying to commute in what limited options there were by staying at home, contacting clients and city workers via telephone and/or e-mail. By 11AM each of the three days of the strike, cars began to move a bit more freely, so things opened up -- a tad. Overall, the city was marginally congested early in the morning, but during the day things got a lot more congested. Cabs were relatively easy to find -- because one cab was able to pick up three separate passengers going to three different places, it was a lot simpler hailing a cab and getting somewhere close than it was this past Monday. However, having said that, the city contingency plan dictated a series of zones (the boundaries were 96th to 60th, 60th to 23rd, 23rd to Water Street, and Water Street down to the Ferry entrance). Traveling by cab within any one of these zones cost $10 per ride; traveling from one of these zones to another, whether by three blocks or thirty -- added an additional $5 onto the ride. So in essence, whether I was going from 55th Street and 1st Ave. to 61st and 2nd, or 28th and 7th to 61st and 2nd, the price would have been the same $10. I spent time in DC, which implemented a zone system for its cabs well before I arrived there in 1988. Since I was doing a lot of traveling for the law firm for which I worked, I got very familiar with the cabs in that city; while the drivers didn't love the zone system, it was fairly simple and pretty efficient. If a driver wanted to make more money, he would be sure to get you to your location as quickly as possible -- he could only charge you a certain amount whether it took him 10 minutes or 30 minutes, so it was in his best interest to get you there sooner rather than later. The zone experiment in NYC wasn't especially gratifying to those of us who had to deal with it first-hand, but according to most of the drivers I spoke to about it, many cab drivers wound up making an extra $200 or so a day, although the cost of that extra money was that they had to be manage to get into Manhattan prior to 5AM, when the four-person-per-car rule was implemented -- either that, or wait until 11AM. Most chose the former, apparently, hence the huge numbers of available cabs.

So aside from the price-gauging, overcharging and simple misunderstandings, that part of it worked out well.

However, having said that, in answer to all three questions posed thus far, I also must mention that my mother had surgery this past Tuesday -- the first day of the strike -- and since the surgery was performed in Manhattan, that made traveling to see her in the hospital dicey at best and incredibly difficult at the worst. I alluded to her surgery earlier in these pages, but not until this morning -- when she was released and pronounced healthy and ready to return home to recuperate -- was I willing to mention it herein. Once we knew the surgery was over and she was fine and would be fine, I was able to breathe a big sigh of relief. However, coupled with the strike and the aforementioned work situation (which is still hanging over my head like an anvil anchored to the ceiling with dental floss), the pressure and the stress level has been boiling over in a seething cauldron.

If that sounds overly dramatic, let me just say that I think it's actually an understatement.

In the meantime, I'm heading to my office shortly to do some more work as well as perform an upgrade on our server, but since tomorrow is Christmas -- and tonight begins Chanukkah -- I wanted to make sure I wished everyone a happy holiday and a good weekend and a nice last week of 2005. While it had been ridiculously cold here over the first couple weeks of December, it's suddenly tailed off and become almost pleasant. It's due to be around 45 or so for the next few days, and that, of course, is a good thing; firstly, my mother was able to leave the hospital and not confront her first weather in four days by getting blasted by sub-zero temps. Second, Kaia will be arriving on the 29th and I didn't want her to have to leave a 60-degree climate and be smack-dab in the middle of a 25-degree climate. Third, and finally, I've been relegated to carrying a bag filled with files and paperwork that tips the scales at around 25-30 pounds; I've found it's a lot easier to handle a heavy bag of paperwork and files when I'm not weighed down with gloves, scarves, hats and ear-wraps as well as temperatures that make breathing a minute-to-minute chore. Perhaps it's just me, but it's just not the ideal.

As for this coming week, I plan on doing a lot of work, a lot of prepping (cleaning, laundry, identification of random objects) in my apartment, and getting all of Kaia's Chanukkah goodies in order. I've got a big bag filled with stuff for her, and I already advised her to make sure her suitcase has plenty of extra room for bringing said goodies back to San Fran. I've been accumulating goodies for her for the past month or two, so I am hoping her new suitcase can handle everything. And if not, it's a good excuse for her to stay indefinitely ;)

In either case, I want to wish you, the reader, a happy holiday, no matter which one you celebrate. If you're doing so with family, have fun; if you're doing so far from your family, keep them in your heart and in your mind. If doing so isn't a pleasant thing for you to do, than do something that keeps you smiling and gives you some time to reflect. Over the past week, if not over the past year or so, I've found that spending time with my family and friends and my other half is more precious to me than anything I could ever hold in my hand or achieve. Last night, as we all were getting my mother's stuff together for her hospital exit this morning, we were all just sitting around, bullshitting, talking, laughing and relaxing, and -- despite the location -- we were all happy and content with our lives. It's not the first time the four of us have been gathered in a hospital room and found ourselves relieved and comforted by our combined presence; but being in that environment -- now for the second time within a year -- is not something I relish. But being together with my family -- even despite Kaia's arrival being delayed until the 29th -- makes me happy for what I've got rather than lamenting what I don't.

And that, more than anything, is high on the list of ingredients for enjoying the holidays -- no matter which one is being celebrated, when, or where.

1 comment:

Kaia said...

New Year - less stress. Happy happy happy :)

Love you madly - K