Saturday, August 2, 2008

Don't Lose Anything on Weekends

I blame the subway.  If I hadn't waited twenty-five minutes for a train, I wouldn't have left the platform in search of a cab.  If I hadn't hopped in a cab to go to work, I wouldn't have left my wallet in said cab. 

That was the beginning of my day.  I walked to the 1 train - running slightly late, as usual - and as I approached the second set of stairs leading down to the platform of the 18th Street station, I saw a train pulling away.  I figured I'd wait ten minutes for the next train, which is the norm, especially on a Saturday morning.  After waiting twenty minutes and watching three express trains and two downtown trains go by, I became both irritated by the wait and worried that I would be late for work.  Now, I'm not going to be drawn and quartered if I'm a few minutes late, but at that rate I would be more than a half an hour late, which is about fifteen minutes later than I ever want to be.  Plus, it was Old Timers' Day at Yankee Stadium, and even though I wasn't doing the Angels/Yankees game, I was working the Old Timers' Day ceremony for YES. This is a special event for the Yankees and the network, and I knew I would have a few extra things to type.  With that in mind, I stormed through the turnstiles, ran up the stairs and hailed a cab.  As the cab approached Yankee Stadium, I took my wallet out of my purse; when we stopped I gave the driver my money, asked for change and the receipt, and bounded out of the cab on my way to the TV trucks.  I was happy that despite the long wait for the 1, I was exactly on time.  

I'd thrown my change and receipt into a pocket in the back of my purse.  When I sat down I decided to transfer them into my wallet.  The purse was huge, as all of my purses are, and my belongings tend to get swallowed by them.  I fished around for my wallet to no avail; it was not in there.  It was still, inexplicably, in the cab's backseat.  I immediately dialed 3-1-1, the information number in New York City.  Since I had the receipt, I was able to give the operator the cab's medallion number, which I thought would make it easy to track him down.  In my mind, the operator would simply call someone in charge of taxis, someone in charge of taxis would simply call the cab driver, and the cab driver would simply turn around and be back at Yankee Stadium with my wallet within minutes.  It wasn't that simple.  The operator took my information, ostensibly to file a claim that would not be acted upon until Monday.  After screaming at the top of my lungs proclaiming how asinine this policy is, I persuaded the operator to give me the number to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.  She did, but with the warning that it was closed on weekends. More yelling from me.  I was livid.  I spoke to three other people at 3-1-1, including a supervisor, and a policeman at the lost and found.  All were very nice; all said essentially the same thing: Since it was Saturday, I was screwed.  

I suppose the good folks at the Taxi and Limo Commission trust that no one makes mistakes or loses things or leaves behind personal belongings after business hours.  It makes no sense to me that there is no one to help at 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning.  My emotions shifted from being extremely angry with myself for not paying more attention to my wallet to being exasperated by New York's inefficient systems.  Don't get me wrong, New York is the greatest city in the world, but I can't understand how it's possible that people in a 24/7 city using a 24/7 system of transportation are unable to obtain 24/7 assistance when things go wrong.  

Being at work, I thought I would be unable to cancel the credit cards that were in my wallet since I didn't have any statements with me that had my account numbers.  A co-worker who witnessed my on-the-phone meltdown suggested I look online for phone numbers for my credit card companies and cancel them using my social security number.  That was a great idea, and it worked.  Yet I found it baffling that each website had a specific number to call for lost or stolen credit cards, yet I was prompted by the automated voice on the phone to enter my credit card number.  Well, if one loses one's credit card, one doesn't have the credit card number, does one?  Eventually I was able to talk to human beings, so it's all good.  

This experience taught me several things:  
  1. First of all, I need to be more careful when I get out of cabs.  (Still, this is only the third wallet I've left in a cab in the eight-plus years I've lived in New York, and I think that's pretty good.)  
  2. It also taught me not to beat myself up when I lose things.  People lose things every day.  I wasn't the first person to leave a wallet in a cab, and I won't be the last. 
  3. Another thing I learned was that I need to be more organized with my credit cards.  At first I didn't even know what cards I had in my wallet, if they were in my name or my husband's, or whether I had used them recently.  
  4. Next, I need to stop rushing to everywhere I go.  Sure, I want to be prompt, especially since my dad, who spent twenty-one years in the Army, taught me I should be fifteen minutes early to every appointment.  But the result of my being hasty was losing a wallet, something I wouldn't have done had I taken my time.  As it turns out, I spent about forty-five minutes on the phone reporting the lost wallet and cancelling credit cards and yelling at people.  So I should've waited for the subway after all.  
  5. Lastly, I learned that I can't get so worked up about something that really isn't as devastating as it originally seems.  Yes, it's horrible to think that someone - the next passenger in that cab - took possession of my wallet and thereby my name, money, credit cards and receipts.  Because of that I made an ass of myself in front of my co-workers while being particularly demonstrative on the phone.  As the pleasant police officer told me, I'm one of the lucky ones because I didn't lose my driver's license (I keep it in a pouch that I use to hold my cell phone) or my social security card.  It could've been a lot worse.  

But that doesn't mean I won't make an ass of myself the next time it happens.  

Friday, August 1, 2008

Under a Train Track and on a Dirt Floor



Wednesday night I went to the High Line design book launch party under the elevated train tracks on 10th Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets.  It was a lively affair complete with a performance by Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, a smooth 1920s jazz band.  I was actually surprised and proud of myself that I went, as I was unaccompanied and didn't know anyone there.  Still, it was nice to walk through the eclectic crowd of young, smartly dressed professionals; hip, artsy folks; and older people who have probably made their homes in Chelsea for decades.  I bought the design book that was just published.  The book documents the High Line project with historical pictures, beautiful drawings, and plans for the city's newest green space.  Check out details about the book and ongoing construction of the elevated park at the High Line's website.