I Feel Your Pain — Still


“I love the four seasons,” said no one in the Northeast today. The weather sucks!

There’s already six inches to a foot on-the-ground in Connecticut.

With rain/sleet/freezing rain and then a turn back to snow, the pack will be wet, heavy and tough to clear.

I just traded texts with my niece Melissa in Milwaukee. She and husband Mark are supposed to fly Southwest to New York City tomorrow. Good luck.

New York City’s new mayor is in snow denial mode. Another attempt to blame the weatherman. It’s bipartisan. Everybody does it!

The mayor and Al Roker battled it out on Twitter this morning. Winter will do that to you. Everyone gets testy.

Southwest hasn’t cancelled flights for tomorrow yet. They will!

Will Melissa’s plane even make it to Milwaukee tonight so it’s available for a 6:05 AM departure? Will the crew have enough rest hours? How crazy will our nation’s air traffic system be?

I’m not sure what to do on a day like today? It’s 75&#176 and partly cloudy at John Wayne Airport. Out my window, totally blue skies. Should I just keep my mouth shut and hide?

I totally understand what folks in the Northeast are going through. It might seem like I’m rubbing it in. I’m not. My dues are paid-in-full.

Usually by mid-February, winter had gotten the best of me. And yet I knew there was more snow to come. There was nothing to do but grin and bear it and plan my escape.

More snow Saturday. Post photos. That’s as close as I’m getting.

The Advantage Of Not Forecasting On-The-Air

I’m watching the Pats/Broncos and remembering winter. They’re not pleasant memories.

If I was still forecasting in Connecticut, I’d have been talking about Wednesday’s potential storm for days already. Fellow forecasters, I feel your pain. The forecast has vacillated like a bride-to-be on “Say Yes To The Dress.”

Even today no one knows for sure. I certainly don’t.

However, the models have begun to stabilize. The forecast solution has become more consistent run-to-run.

Wednesday looks like rain all across the East Coast. In fact, it looks like rain most of the way from Canada to Florida! Early Thursday the rain turns to snow, but by that time the storm’s moisture should be mostly spent.

In New York City the potential is there for enough wind to keep the balloons grounded Thanksgiving Day. No one wants that.

Here in SoCal it’s temps near 70&#176 and a slight chance for rain Thursday and Friday. Slight.

Six Of Us Together For Lunch

We didn’t say anything profound. We didn’t discuss anything weighty. We ate and enjoyed each others company. I wouldn’t have traded that for the world!

My family is small. Helaine and I have one daughter. My sister has two daughters and a son. Staying close is important. I was poor at doing just that for a good part of my adult life.

That’s why today was so important.

My nephew and one of my nieces were on their way to New York City with their respective boyfriend and girlfriend. Helaine and I made a date to meet them for lunch.

I love Manhattan. Though inconveniently a bus and subway away it was my playground as a kid. It’s still exhilarating to be there.

Getting to the city is even more of a hassle today. We are at the very end of Metro North’s New Haven line–72 miles on the local! It was worth every inch.

We arranged to meet Matt and Melissa at the Stage Deli on 7th Avenue just north of Times Square. The Stage is known for oversized sandwiches, matzoh ball soup and the fact show business legends used to come there&#185. If you eat lunch at The Stage there’s no need for dinner!

Helaine and I got there around 1:00 PM followed by Melissa and her boyfriend Mark. Matt and his girlfriend Becky showed up ten minutes later.

Maybe this is commonplace in your family. With ours spread coast-to-coast (and even Matt and Melissa living in Illinois and Wisconsin respectively) it’s a big deal.

We didn’t say anything profound. We didn’t discuss anything weighty. We ate and enjoyed each others company.

I wouldn’t have traded that for the world!

Our trip to The City was brief. We had lunch, hopped in a taxi and were on the 3:07 train back to New Haven.

This day started as my nephew Matt’s idea. Smart kid.

&#185 – I’ve been coming for years and have never seen anyone famous. My Uncle Dave, a waiter there in the 50s and 60s used to talk about the celebs who came in and how they tipped. This is why I’m a good tipper.

Back To Manhattan To Fetch My Car

Of course I had “Clicky” with me to document the day.

As you might remember a few weeks ago I left my totally dependable Subaru Forester in the garage to spend one sunny day with the top down on my 12 years SLK230. Oops. Today Helaine and I headed to Manhattan to put an obscene repair bill on my credit card and drive home.

For the curious it was a crankshaft position sensor and some other related stuff. I plead ignorance. My guess is someone’s child has just had their college tuition paid by me.

Weatherwise it was the perfect day for a trip to New York City. The temperature was comfortably mild. The sky was deep blue.

Metro North is back up and running after Hurricane Irene. We hopped the train to Grand Central.

My car was repaired at a dealership on the far west side of Manhattan. On this day Helaine and I walked the 1.6 miles from GCT.

If you wanted to sell New York City as a destination today would have been the day to use for your pitch! The streets were full of people. Restaurants burst out onto the sidewalk. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood.

Of course I had “Clicky” with me to document the day including

  1. A bodega with a watchcat
  2. A TV actor on location yelling so scarily Helaine thought he was a real New York City screaming crazy person.
  3. The world’s strangest and probably most expensive satellite dish installation
  4. Manhattan street trees

The drive home was uneventful. Phew.

Where Don’t You Want Your Car To Break Down On A Saturday Night?

I was on First Avenue halfway between 57th and 58th when the car stopped running! It was as if someone pulled the plug on the gas.

My secret friend from the San Fernando Valley was in New York City yesterday. I drove in to see him and his dad and have dinner together. It was great. I had a nice time.

I wish that was what this story was about. It isn’t!

As you hopefully know, I am the spokesman for Premier Subaru in Branford. I have a Subaru Forester and drive it nearly 100%. It’s a great car! But Saturday was partly sunny and mild. It was a chance to drive my 12 year old MB SLK230 with the top down. It hadn’t been driven in around a month.

It called out to me.

I succumbed to temptation!

After dinner my friend and I walked (and I took photos) as he picked up some necessities in his 24/7 Upper East Side neighborhood. By 10:30 we were back at my car. I said goodbye and headed home.

I was on First Avenue halfway between 57th and 58th when the car stopped running! It was as if someone pulled the plug on the gas!

Lights lit on the dashboard, but I had no chance to look. I needed what inertia the car had to make my way across two lanes of traffic to the curb.

I nosed into the far end of a bus stop at the SE corner of First and 58th. Luckily it was Saturday night. Traffic was light. It hadn’t begun to rain yet either. In retrospect that was even luckier.

I tried to start the engine. There was no combustion.

I’m not sure I would have driven the car at that point anyway. Even after 94,000 miles trust is lost very quickly.

So there I was, alone on a Saturday night with a dead car!

I called Helaine first. That’s what husbands do. I’m sure I was short with her. I was panicky. My head was racing. My car was in a bad place.

I couldn’t just walk away and plan. I knew there was stuff to do, but didn’t know exactly what.

I took out my AAA card and dialed the number.

In the end Triple-A was incredibly helpful. Not when I first called!

“Current wait time is three minutes fifty four seconds.”

No!!! AAA, you’re supposed to be like 911 when I have trouble. You’re supposed to pick up right away and be helpful.

To add insult to injury while I waited AAA’s recorded announcements tried to sell me stuff. There is a time and a place for commerce. This was neither!

Like I said overall AAA was incredibly helpful. The operator was friendly as she took my info then transferred me to a New York City agent.

There were too many questions. I was, after all, sitting in a traffic lane in Manhattan! Dispatch first. Questions second.

As I ended with the New York operator she gave me a reference number and told me to call back if the tow truck didn’t arrive within 20 minutes. Of course there was no way for me to write any of that down&#185. I switched to blind faith mode.

Ten minutes later a New York dispatcher called followed by the tow.

When the truck operator got out I could have kissed him. Instead I went directly to my wallet, got out a ten, handed it to him and said, “I drove this car off the lot. Please be gentle.”

I have no way of knowing if ten dollars was the right amount, but it seemed so at the time. I just wanted him to know he was appreciated even before he did a single thing.

Ten minutes later my car had been pulled onto the flatbed and tied down tight. I didn’t know what was next so I walked toward the passenger door of the truck… but no. My car was going to the garage where there were no mechanics on-duty. It didn’t need me.

“Do I get a receipt?” I asked as the driver walked to the cab of his truck. Nope. He didn’t have any business cards either.

I picked up Clicky and shot away as my toy car made a right turn on 58th Street and disappeared from sight.

I’d spoken to Helaine a few times while waiting. Originally I was hoping she’d drive into the city to pick me up. In retrospect that didn’t make sense. Then I asked my friend if I could use his couch? He said yes, but Helaine checked the schedule and found a train leaving Grand Central for New Haven at 12:15 am. I hopped a cab.

Grand Central late is different than Grand Central early! There were gaggles of city visitors milling around and even sitting on the hard granite stairs waiting for their trains.

On this particular night a movie crew was setting up for a late night shoot. From the looks of things it was still hours before the cameras would roll. They were coordinated and busy. Movie set-up is physical labor.

I arrived in New Haven around twenty after two. Helaine was waiting. She was wearing shoes, but had driven to Union Station in her pajamas.

At the moment my car is at a garage somewhere in Midtown. Tomorrow, I assume, a mechanic will call with an outlandish estimate. I’ve asked my friend Steve who’s incredibly car savvy to be my ‘truth meter’ when they call.

I guess this story really isn’t done yet.

This story continues. Click to read on.

&#185 – When I got home I downloaded and installed the AAA app on my iPhone. Better luck next time.

New York And Back With Hardly Any New York

My nearly five hour roundtrip commute is in pursuit of a 10 minute audition!

I am typing this while on the 12:07 PM Metro North express from Grand Central Terminal. Until a few minutes ago there were rivers of sweat pouring off my body. This is a train I shouldn’t have attempted to make, but did. I am on my way home from New York City. My nearly five hour roundtrip commute is in pursuit of a 10 minute audition!

I continue to be amazed by people who make this commute to the city from this part of Connecticut every day. When most out-of-towners think of my state they think Fairfield County. When the first of those Fairfield County passengers get off I’ll still have over an hour to go.

This all started yesterday afternoon with an email and three pieces of copy from my commercial agent. Could I be there today at 11:40?

Of course I could.

Making the 9:33 AM train to New York is to me what making at 3:00 AM train is to most of you. I am nocturnal. My bedtime is around 5:00 AM. This morning my alarm was set for 7:50. I was actually up before 7:00.

I now know this trip well. From the Metro North platform the subway is down a long formerly majestic hall. It’s downstairs to the mezzanine then down again to the platform.

I have a MetroCard with a balance. It makes me feel less of an interloper and more like I belong.

Beyond the train today’s destination was one subway for two stops then a two block walk through pouring rain! Less than ten minutes from GCT I was taking an elevator to six and the casting office.

Casting Factory Outlet! The place was nuts.

There were at least six simultaneous auditions noted on laser printed paper signs and close to a hundred actors sitting along the walls. Some folks looked like they knew one another and were chatting. They all seemed to know the drill. Everyone was nervously sizing up the competition.

I signed in and sat down.

It wasn’t long before Colin fetched me into what looked like a large office. We were above Madison Avenue in what was evidently not a soundproof room.

There was a mic, but no headphones. Down near my feet was a Mac laptop. The casting director for this commercial was joining us via Skype!

I read my three pieces of copy took some direction and read one again.

I was OK. I wish I was great. Maybe I was. It’s all so surreal. Judgments are tough to make.

Will I get it? Who knows? A friend who has been a regular at these says you audition then forget about it. Sometimes you hear, usually you don’t.

I love this experience. I loved being in the casting agency, even if only for a few moments. I’d like to get cast, but right now I’m merely learning the ropes and getting comfortable.

A quick look at my watch told me I had time to make this early train I’m now on.

Unfortunately, I entered the subway and got all the way down to the turnstile before realizing it was a downtown only platform! I rechecked on the way back up: no signs!

It wasn’t until I was finally on the “6” heading north that I realized it would be touch and go. I was only two stops away, but as the train pulled into Grand Central it slowed and my pulse quickened. This time of day it’s one train an hour to New Haven.

I ran!

I ran up the stairs past the token booth then up another flight and into Grand Central Terminal proper. My train was on Track 26, a little farther than I expected.

It wasn’t until I cleared the gates and was on the platform that I saw my train was still there. As I panted my way into the car a buzzer buzzed and the doors closed!

I’ll be in New Haven two’ish and hopefully back in bed before three.

It’s a good day.