Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Pay it Forward"

Trudging up the road, dragging our luggage through the crusted brown slush and attempting to find a heated place that serves warm food. But most places weren't open yet. We headed to the 7-eleven nearby to call a cab but before even reaching the parking lot, a kind lady in a cozy knitted beanie came towards us and offered sweetly, "You folks need a ride somewhere?".
A complete stranger went out of her way to take us three miles up the road to the car lot where our van was and all she asked in return..."Make sure to pay it forward."
God bless the humans.
What a way to start out our adventure. Last friday night we flew out to New York on a red eye to pick up a 2007 Dodge Sprinter that we had purchased from ebay. To give you an idea of how we found this crazy line of thinking worthwhile, vans of the same type and model in our area go for about twice the amount we paid for this van in New York. And we got a heckuva wild adventure out of it, too. #yolo
No but really, why did we buy a van? Some of our friends were tricked into thinking it was because we are expanding our family and need a more family friendly vehicle. Such is not the case (as of yet), but we were indeed in need of a larger, more spacious vehicle. Currently it is a two (wo)man job to get the harp into our truck and I need it to be a one woman job. The van will also allow me to leave it standing, thus cutting down on the wear and tear of laying the instrument on it's side. 
As well as this massive, 12-passenger van will give us loads more opportunity to go on fun road trips with more people than just us two and whoever is crazy enough to ride along. Weekend trip to Disneyland? I think yes.
We experienced no shortage of blessings and miracles on this trip. The above experience being one of the most well-timed and angelic. We landed in New York having slept a cumulative one hour between the both of us, found our way to the shuttle bus since the rail was closed, made it onto the Long Island Rail and enjoyed pleasant conversation with two native New Yorkers who were kind enough to point out how obvious it was that we had no idea what we were doing by asking where we were coming from. Or maybe it was just our giant luggage in tow. 

After encountering a...different brand of New Yorker (slightly smelly, slightly deranged, overly friendly dude who at one point tried to grab my suitcase on the for him because my hands were frozen to it), we got off on a completely deserted looking stop (accompanied by our new "friend") and lawd bless gps because we would probably be frozen in some New Jersey gutter without that blessed amenity. Smart phones revolutionized travel, I'm serious. #srsbsns
*See italicized account above.
I wrote that while we were picking up the van because I didn't want to forget how special an experience that was. We were tired, we were lost and unsure of how to do anything as simple as even calling a taxi, and we'd only been in the state a couple hours. Aren't New Yorkers supposed to be mean? Or at least just apathetic? In any case, I continue to bless the angel woman that approached us without restraint and helped us get where we needed to without having to pay for a taxi. 

I feel like I just walked out of a chapter of Matilda and her dad runs this carshop. Everyone has strong Brooklyn accents and basically handed us the keys to send us on our way. Um...maybe we check that it runs first? Can we get a temporary registration through you? Help?
But then Bob showed up. Bob is elderly and has the kind of mustache you can trust. He stood around in stoic silence, giving us the, "Crazy hooligans" look of a man wizened by years of schooling young whippersnappers. The van starts and we're just waiting for Dennis (Mark's contact through this whole ordeal) to arrive so we can get the temp registration printed out.
Look, I know how fishy this sounds.
I'm living in fishy. I'm arctic cod at this point. But dang it if this isn't the greatest adventure of far. Go big or go home, right?
I hope we make it home...
We know how crazy we were to fly out to the other side of the country for a van. A van. And it didn't help our nerves that car salesman are notoriously skeezy. Our brains are programmed to not trust them. But we crossed our fingers and took the plunge anyway. 
We were able to get a temporary registration through them, and probably half an hour after we arrived we were driving out onto the streets of New York. We both agreed Mexican food sounded good (since we'd had nothing to eat but airplane peanuts since dinner the night before) and made the silly mistake of thinking we'd find anything remotely resembling mexican in the east coast city of Smithtown. 
PS- it sucked.

Knifes are dangerous. Also always do a thorough double check of your first aid kit supplies. Then you won't have to dash across the slush ridden street nearly breaking your ankle to make a bandaid and antiseptic run to the pharmacy across the street.
We stayed in the parking lot of the tiny restaurant because who knows where we'd find a similar free parking arrangement, and Mark fiddled with the van a little bit to get it set up the way we wanted. I moseyed on back to read some Harry Potter and not ten minutes later he says rather frantically, "Honey? Do we have a first aid kit?!" 
Few other words make a wife's heart drop into her stomach as quickly as those. I don't know what he'd been doing but it seems the man needs a boy scout lesson in proper pocket knife etiquette. Luckily I do keep a small kit with me in my purse but all I had were alcohol wipes and gauze packets. Even more luckily there was a pharmacy right across the street and I braved the harsh winds whipping ice crystals off the fresh snow to heroically fetch medical supplies. 
We were back onto the street in no time, headed for an autozone and then on to Liberty Park to try and get a couple shots of us with the city in the background.

Dear NY Cop,
Why yes indeed we did come "all the way to New York for a car." Is that a problem?
Literally three miles from where we'd stopped for lunch and probably only an hour since having the van, we got pulled over by a cop who was highly suspicious of why we had such a van with no license plate. Mark gave him all the usual paperwork necessities and when the cop held up his AZ license his eyebrows raised a couple inches easily, asking in a doubtful tone, "you came all the way to New York for a car?" 
But with a valid license, insurance, and the registration taped to the back of the window, he had no reason to hold us further and we were, once again, on the road within a couple minutes.

Barely three hours in New York and the adventures hadn't stopped coming. But things only got better from there...

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