Escape from Hell
The COLDEST day (Radnor&West, Wales)
Now and then I get a hare(or is it hair?)-brained idea and I sure had one this week. See, I've become a fairly committed digital photographer and my camera is dying again. So I decided it was time to purchase body #2, a Nikon D200, to be exact. When I'm laying down that kind of money I don't want to just order it through the mail. So I pick the hottest day of the year (over 100 degrees air temp) to....drive nearly an hour at 5:45 am to the nearest city and hop on a Trailways bus for a couple of hours to.....you guessed it...New York City.
There are few things that smell worse than NYC on a 100-degree day; in my experience nothing comes close to that boiling-stale-urine-rotten fish-decomposing trash putrescence of NYC on Wednesday. Give me a dead skunk in the middle of the road any day.
The bus drops me in Port Authority (42nd St) and I head out to 9th Avenue and then walk the 9 blocks to B&H Photo at 33rd Street. Have you ever been to B&H? If you're a photographer, you owe it to yourself. It's the adult equivalent to the largest, most expensive toy store in the world. Geez, you can get in a lot of trouble there. The staff are knowledgeable and professional almost beyond belief (though they won't stand around going from foot to foot with you for two hours or anything - there are usually queues of people wanting to have their moment to ask questions and hold the merchandise). They have Nikon lenses that are big around as your head and as long as an umbrella. You get the idea. Trouble is you see the "cheap" lens and then you just ask to see the expensive one in the same sort of range, say 70-200, and you can go from $150 to $1700 in the click of a shutter. I came away without the 70-200, but it's on my mind real big-like; never mind the booger weighs about 3 pounds and pretty much requires a tripod or at least a monopod to use!
I spent a sort of dreamy 3 hours in B&H (thank goodness I had to meet my sister over on the East Side at 12:30 or I might have spent more) getting my D200 and a lens I've been coveting (the 85mm f1.4). Because I'm getting to that age I had my reading glasses on the whole time and I wrote down the lenses I wanted to see and the questions I wanted to ask. If I was venturing into hell on the hottest day of the year I didn't want to come away saying darn! I forgot to ask that!
If the streets of NYC were hot the telephones were hotter. They don't have phone booths in NYC (people do nasty things in them like urinate - and sleep - and leave needles) and I HAD to call my sister to agree on a meeting place. One of the last things I wanted to do was pick up one of the receivers near 42nd street and put it up to my ear but I had no choice. I just had to not think about it. Turns out I had to pick up about 6 of them at various streetcorners before I found one that worked and fought down the urge to barf every time. My mind's eye could just see the germs and bacteria jumping off onto my face. Maybe I'll loosen one of my principles and get a cell phone. At least they'd be MY germs. Times like these I do regret my adherence to the "no cell phone" rule.
Two hours later I was back in Port Authority scrambling for my bus. The mass of humanity everywhere, the braying of incessant horns and roar of people screaming into their sanitary cell phones makes me want to do anything to get out of there. Fortunately the bus scooped me up and I was off to the north, out of the Jaws-like grip of the gates of Hell.
But it was all worth it. The D200 is a beautiful camera and the salesman who helped me assured me it was a good thing I'd called the day before to place a body on hold; they were now out of stock! (the reason I went to NYC on such a hot day was that they'd been backordered for months and I feared this would happen all too soon).
A happy ending, no?