I have been a New Yorker for a week now.
It started last Saturday when we stepped off the plane at JFK. It was a pretty anti-climactic departure from the Netherlands. The movers came and packed up all my stuff. 54 boxes worth of stuff, 20 boxes more than I had when I came to the Netherlands. I guess in one way you could look at it is that I had an almost one hundred percent increase in boxes of stuff. But now it’s all packed up, in a cargo container on a ship on its way to New York, destination unknown.
We had some hitches on the way, starting with the delay in train service from Dordrecht back to the Hague on my last day of work. Always a strange feeling, your last day at work. You walk around the entire day saying things like, “This is the last time I’ll eat lunch at this place,” or, “This is the last time I’ll punch the elevator to the fourth floor and walk into my office.” Depressing stuff.
Typically for a Friday, no one was in on my last day. I was in an entire wing of the building which normally sits fourteen people, and there was just me and one colleague. I sent a “farewell” email to the people I remembered most. It was a short list. I hit “send” vaguely angry. It’s a cruel thing to be deprived of a chance to say goodbye.
Half an hour before quitting time it dawned on me I should pack up some of the various important papers, chotchkies, and other office paraphernalia and have them shipped to my new office. Ten minutes before leaving I was frantically looking in all the drawers and throwing things out, suddenly aware for the first time that I was leaving and not coming back.
It was a typical grey cold day in the Netherlands, like the country was displaying its most cliched characteristics so I could take them with me as a memento. On my last train ride from Dordrecht to the Hague the train service was experiencing delays and we had to get out at a different station (Holland Spoor) and take a cab.
The next day Lynn and I flew together from Schiphol to JFK. We had difficulty getting seats together. Then the plane was delayed four hours. They made an announcement and the Dutch airline rep told us that we should be happy the plane was flying at all because there had been some discussion about cancelling the flight. Typically Dutch. We should be grateful for their crappy service. They put us on a thirty year old 747 with one TV screen per ten rows. At least the movie was good, Harry Potter V.
The snags didn’t stop there. Although the car service we had hired was there to meet us on time, when we got to the “hotel”, and I use the term very loosely, they weren’t expecting us until the next day, even though I had changed my flights to come on the day they said the apartment would be ready. Luckily they had another room to put us in for the night.
We hauled our stuff up four flights of stairs, and promptly collapsed into the bed. The next day we hauled all our stuff down again and toured around the city for a while as they cleaned our new room. When we finally were allowed to “check in” at 4:00pm, we hauled our stuff up (only) three flights of steps. In the room we discovered that the light by the bed didn’t work, I went to change the channel on the TV and pushed the button right through the TV thus depriving myself of the only manual way of changing channels as the other button had already been pushed through. I reached for the remote which literally fell apart in my hand, then we discovered that the stove didn’t work.
Let me just put it plainly: the “Bridge Suites” furnished apartments at 60th street and First avenue, which are $3,000 a month for a studio sized room, sucks donkey balls.
The week that followed wasn’t much easier.