Last April we took a family trip to New York. This would have been April of '09. The trip was a Christmas gift from my dad and step-mom to our whole family.
I had been to NY several times because I absolutely love it. I love the energy and excitement. I love that nobody knows me. I love seeing the Statue of Liberty and The Empire State Building. I love buying fake purses and Rolex's from people selling them from big garbage bags.
Anyway, like I said, I had been to NY before but my kids never had. To make the trip more of a vacation for us, my dad even had one of our private duty nurses for Tess come with us to help. We also had gotten tickets to see South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theater during a planned night out with Blake and Ellie while Tessie stayed back at the hotel with the CNA. We couldn't wait to go!
The first day in the city we took a taxi to Battery Park to get the ferry out to see lady Liberty. I want you to picture what this must have looked like to a perspective taxi driver. As a group we had my dad (a big guy in his own right), my step-mom, my brother, his wife, his five year old daughter and their baby in a stroller. Then there was me, my hubby, and our three daughters (one in a wheelchair) plus our CNA. It quickly became apparent that, in this case, the key would be to divide and conquer. We split up in the hopes of getting a cab faster. In the end, my older kids went with my hubby, my dad and step-mom went with my five year old niece and my brother and his wife went with their baby. Brianna and I (the CNA) went with Tessie.
Here's an exercise in frustration:Try to hail a cab in NY with a wheelchair in tow. It is like an episode of Mission Impossible. We actually took to hiding Tessie and Brianna on the sidewalk while I went into the street to hail a cab. When one would pull over for me, like a magician pulling the rabbit out of the hat, Brianna and Tessie would appear and we would whisk Tessie out of her chair, into the taxi and onto one of our laps while the poor taxi driver was left to figure out how to put a wheelchair that doesn't fold into the trunk of a his cab. But this was NY...thus he wasn't stumped for too long. While Brianna and I watched out the back window, he threw the chair in sideways, lowered the trunk as far as it could go then bungee corded the trunk to the bumper to keep it from flying up. Success! Then we sped off into traffic.
If you have ever been in a cab in NYC you realize that when I say sped, what I mean is that we were taken on a death defying ride through a city where it seems like sport to try to get as close to hitting other people without actually killing them while constantly honking the horn. It is also an almost sure way to get whiplash. Brianna was holding Tessie in a vice grip while we screamed through the city out to Battery Park.
When we finally got there we struggled getting Tessie in her chair and to find the rest of our little group. Ah, there was Charlie waiting on the curb but everyone else had ditched us and already gotten into the long line that was waiting to go through security to get on the ferry.
It was a very cold and windy day. Especially considering that it was April. We were freezing. I went to a vendor that was off to the side of the waiting throng of people and bought Tessie a winter hat to put on.
A few minutes later a person who worked for the ferry service saw us with Tessie and motioned for us to bypass the line and bring her right into the building that everyone had to pass through for security. As we whizzed by the rest of my family, all huddled together to keep warm, I actually yelled out "See ya, suckers!". Nice, huh?
We all got scanned over, had to take off our shoes, hats, open our coats, purses, etc. I knew without turning around, when my father got inside. I could hear him griping about how ridiculous it was to frisk a baby when they asked my brother to lift little Becca up out of her stroller to take a look. I knew it would get bad when they went for Tessie. They were very nice and did as little to disturb her in her wheelchair while still doing a search. My father, again, thought it was ridiculous. After 9/11, I was glad for the level of security.
At any rate, we all got on the ferry and rode out to Liberty Island.
As soon as we got there I took The Toots and made a beeline for the gift shop. There is just something about a touristy gift shop that pulls me forward like a moth to a flame. I love them! My hubby was heard to mutter something not too flattering but I forged ahead undeterred. Plus it was just so cold that I really didn't want The Toots outside more than was necessary (that is my story and I am sticking to it!).
We stayed for a while and walked around the Statue. We ate lunch then decided to try to catch the next ferry back. We got in line just as the ferry was getting ready to pull away from the dock. Even though they had refused the people in the line ahead of us, when they saw Tessie they pulled back up to dock, opened the walkway to the ferry and came and got us to get on. Some of the people in line were mad while a couple actually tried to pretend that they were with us just so they could get on that ferry. I couldn't believe it and quickly told the deckhand that, no, they definitely were not with us.
By the time we got on the boat it was packed. We could hardly move Tessie's wheelchair. There was a handicapped section but people were sitting in it and NOBODY was going to move.
The next thing I know I hear my dad shouting. "MOVE IT! WE GOT A HANDICAPPED KID HERE! ANYBODY SPEAK ENGLISH? YOU'RE IN AMERICA! NOW MOVE YOUR ASSES!!"
To get a true picture of what was happening you have to know what my dad looks like. He is a big guy with a very large presence. A big, Maine fisherman and he takes zero crap from anyone. The people on the ferry parted like the Red Sea. A silence fell over our little part of the ferry. I whispered "thank you, sir" as if he was a stranger doing me a favor and managed to get Tess over to the handicapped seating area.
After we got off of the ferry my husband told me what a woman near him had said that I didn't hear. She said, and I quote, "The handicapped kid already has a seat." meaning her wheelchair.
Now my hubby, being the wise man that he is, knew not to tell me that while I was anywhere near that woman. You see, I also have quite a bit of my dad in me and would have been more than happy to tell her where she could go to find the adequate seating that she so desired. Oh well....
Hey! Look over there...is that someone selling Coach purses??
Ahhh, I do love New York!