Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Take The A Train...Or Maybe Dont

After a somewhat harrowing 10 hour bus ride from Boston to New York on Sunday through a white-out blizzard, Monday offered the promise of blue skies and chilly but fair conditions. I was supposed to meet my mum off the Aer Lingus flight from Dublin with my 8 year old daughter, but early in the morning we learned that JFK was closed because of two feet of snow and ice. KLM, BA, Lufthansa and other airlines cancelled their flights to the US but Aer Lingus in the fine Irish tradition decided to go for it, taking off and heading for JFK even though it was closed to all traffic. My mum was supposed to arrive at the still embargoed JFK at four PM and in MidTown Manhattan I was told that no buses or taxis were being allowed out to the airport. Fair enough I thought and with my cheerful daughter in tow we hopped the A Train. Unfortunately there's where it all went wrong. At Euclid Avenue in Queens we were told that all A train service had been suspended in both directions. In effect we were kicked out into the street. It was now three o'clock and my mum was supposed to land in an hour. Ok, I thought, I'll catch a cab. We walked up the steps into the heart of Queens. The scene outside the subway station was apocalyptic. The roads were impassible because of 20 inches of snow, there were buried buses and taxis and crashed cars all over the place. Nothing was moving in any direction. Increasingly frantically we walked through the snow drifts to see if anything was moving. Nothing was. I went back to the A train stop and asked if we could get back to the city. We were told that train service had been suspended indefinitely. It was now four o'clock so I called up JFK to see if someone could meet my mother coming off the plane, after being on hold for half an hour with my phone minutes almost at zero I was told that JFK was closed and nothing would be landing there. This made no sense at all so I called my wife who was back in Boston and asked her to look into it. Meanwhile we went back onto the street to look for a cab. I saw a guy driving a car and flagged him down and offered him 100 bucks to drive me to the airport but he said that there was no way anyone could get to the airport. The wind was vicious now and the sun was starting to set. I may have used profanity at this point. 
After hoofing through the drifts for ten minutes, by the intervention of some good angel I saw a taxi churning snow three streets over. I told my daughter to wait by the bodega and I ran to it. There was a passenger inside and I begged him to let us join him wherever he was going. He was from Jamaica and of course agreed. We picked up my daughter Arwynn, drove to his house and then we headed out to JFK. It was slow going and at five my wife called to say that my mum's plane had been diverted to Boston Logan but according to Aer Lingus they were going to refuel there and go onto JFK. As we got closer to JFK there were cops and state troopers telling us to go back because the airport was closed. Finally my wife called and let me know that Aer Lingus now appreciated that no one was landing at JFK and the passengers were deplaning at Logan where they were being put on buses (!) to JFK. But Logan was fine because my wife was still in northern Mass so we called Aer Lingus and told my mum not to get on the bus to New York. Meanwhile my daughter and I went back to Manhattan by taxi to stay with Leah's aunt Amy. 
We decided to spend Christmas in America this year because my daughter - having been born in Denver and now living in Australia - missed the snow. We're on the Greyhound bus back to Boston now and she tells me now that she is over it.