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Ever Been to the Port Authority in NY?

Without going into a long-winded explanation about how or why I got there, I’ll just say I found it necessary to pass through the infamous Port Authority Terminal in NYC a while back. Even though I was born and raised in NY, I just never had the need to be there until that day. The best way to describe it?  It was like being on an alternative planet! Seriously!

As I wandered around in a maze of tunnels, fast-food shops, and huge phone-charging towers, I tried desperately not to trip on people who were sitting on various dirty floor spaces eating their lunches!  “Is this still planet Earth?”, I wondered to myself?

All I wanted to do was find the bus that would take me to Kennedy Airport – and suddenly, I spotted a tired-looking NYPD Policeman!  “Excuse me, Officer?”, I said, as he turned to eyeball my two huge suitcases. “Where would I find the bus that goes to Kennedy Airport?”, I quietly asked.  

I guess he was so relieved that I wasn’t reporting a crime, he quickly smiled and said, “Oh…just take that elevator over there up two floors. The buses are parked just outside the Terminal.  And you be careful, okay Ma’am?” “Thanks so much!” I said as I headed to the elevator. Hmmm? He seemed genuinely concerned for my safety. I wondered why?

Well, dragging my two big suitcases behind me, I got to the elevator and hit the UP button.  Easy, right? Okay! Elevator arrives, doors open, and that’s when I realized -I was actually entering Bizarro Land!  “Oh my God!”, I quickly whispered to myself. “There’s someone living in this elevator!” Before I could even backup and exit left, I heard, “C’mon in!”, “How ya doin’?”  And, there he was – a little, somewhat scruffy black man sitting on the floor to my right. His big toothless smile was quite friendly and genuinely welcoming, so I only hesitated for a second and thought, “What the hell, how bad can this be?”  I was really careful not to step on his spread-out bedroll or kick over his snowy, wet boots over on my left – but I was especially careful not to bang into his little sterno stove – the one warming up his soup!!!! He really seemed to appreciate my careful manners – “Thanks so much for joining me, Miss.  It can get pretty lonesome in here sometimes, ya know?” I smiled back and mentioned that I was sorry for interrupting his lunch – and that’s when I almost lost it! Because again, he smiled graciously and asked, “Would you care to share my soup? I have an extra cup and spoon!” Thanking him profusely for his generosity, I declined because I had a bus to catch shortly.  I realized this could only happen in the Big Apple on planet Earth as the two dings indicated I had reached the second floor. I wished him well, thanked him for his gracious offer of soup and carefully wheeled my two suitcases out into the cavernous hallway. Looking back over my shoulder, I saw his great big smile and heard, “You have a great day, Miss!”, as the two big brass elevator doors closed behind me.

 I guess life is often not as crazy as we think it is – especially in the NY Port Authority Terminal!