36 Hours in London - Part 1

It’s 6 am. I am at the Newark airport which is in New Jersey. I have just spent 75 minutes in a taxicab with a driver who though unfailingly polite, used the break way too frequently.

I stumble into the airport where I am greeted by a beautiful attendant from Virgin Atlantic. What service I think to myself.

Can I help you?

I go to respond but then I see my boss standing on my left.

No thank you. I’m meeting him.

I walk over, still nauseous and tell him how glad I am to not be in a cab. He says:

Don’t get too comfortable; you’re about to get back into one. Our flight has been cancelled.

No! It can’t be! This is my first business trip! The first time I was going to be sent to a place other than the Bronx on the company dime! London! LONDON! Sure it was only going to be for 2 days but still! I love London!

LONDON!

The morning had started out so perfect too. My car service had been right on time. Which, if you order a cab to pick you up at 4:45 in the morning, you’d hope he didn’t have something else to do.

And even though the roads were clear, my cab driver’s GPS seemed to insist he take local roads from my house to the airport. And by the time he finally did get on the highway every exit meant slowly alternate pumping the brakes and the gas.

I slouched down in my seat and tried to focus on the horizon because I don’t do well in cabs to begin with.

So by the time my boss told me I was about to get back in a cab I just about puked right then and there. Apparently our plane had never left London the night before.

What were we going to do? We were only to London for 2 days to begin with. Was it worth it to go? Luckily the airline gives us a 10-dollar breakfast voucher so we can mull over this important decision at 6 am with a muffin and a bagel respectively.

We decide, this trip is too important, we must venture on! We tell this to one of the lovely Brits who does her best to rebook us and assure us we should have plenty of room on the flight out. Thus we were promptly rebooked on the 9 pm flight, again out of Newark, which is still in New Jersey.

She then asks us if we have a place to stay until our flight.

Now, had I been thinking clearly I would have said no, and gotten some sort of a voucher to stay at an airport hotel nearby where I could nap and then just head back to the airport easily without worrying about traffic or cab nausea.

But I was operating on 4 hours of sleep and wasn’t at my mental best, so I said “oh I’m fine I live in the city.” Never mind that it would mean another cab ride across 2 rivers to get there… in morning rush hour traffic.

Damn it.

So she writes me a voucher for a cab. This is a local cab with no meter and no GPS. Though very kind he has no idea where I live. I ask him if he knows where LaGuardia airport in Queens is, he says yes. Perfect. That’s where I live. Wake me when we get there.

So I close my eyes for a little snooze but I am quickly punched in the eyeball by a fat ray of sunshine that will stay stabbed through my retinas the entire trip home, which will take an hour and a half.

So I wrap my scarf around my head like some kind of nap swami and pray for sleep. And praying was quite fortuitous because my driver listened to the Bible radio station the entire trip.

Now while that is not my normal auditory choice, it actually worked out well. I found the children’s chorus harmonically spelling out B-I-B-L-E after each commercial break to be quite soothing. And I passed out.

And I slept somewhat pleasantly. That is of course until my cab driver woke me up with a frantic:

Sir SIR! We are at LaGaurdia!

Oh ok… keep driving, it’s a little bit further.

Oh OK, I thought we passed it because you said you live near the airport.

So polite my cab driver was.

So he drops me off at my apartment. I take a nap. I watch a movie. I call another cab which picks me up about 7 hours after my last cab drive.

It is now 5 pm. And while I am excited to get on an airplane, I am not excited to be in a cab. In the heart of evening rush hour traffic. To once again drive to Newark, which is still in New Jersey.

My third cab driver of the day once again attempts to take local roads most of the way before getting onto and off highways so frequently I have no choice but to close my eyes and pray to not vomit.

I miss my bible radio.

But the eyes closed method would have worked had my cab driver not subscribed to the “OH SHIT” method of using his brakes. Several times I wondered if I would make it to the airport at all.

Luckily I had 90 minutes to contemplate this, especially the 30 minutes I spent at a stoplight in lower Manhattan because my cab driver thought the fastest way across town was on a one-lane cobblestone street.

But finally, 11 hours after I first arrived at the airport, after 4 hours of cab rides, not enough sleep, and one outfit change… I am back at the airport.

I check in, go to the gate and have a seat.

But now I had a new problem to deal with: My propensity for feigning a British accent… to people who actually have British accents.

To be continued…