A Pleasant Detour
One of the pleasures of vacation is taking a break from checking email, looking at a computer, or otherwise keeping up with the world. And, thanks to a crammed pre-vacation work schedule, we had missed the announcement of New York’s ticker tape parade for the U.S. women’s soccer team.
So the day of the parade we sailed towards the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan, blithely unaware of the monumental traffic jam awaiting us.
That is, until 10 a.m. and about 40 miles out, when I suggested flipping on the radio to catch some news. Janet found a station in the Big Apple, whose lead story concerned the parade.
Immediately, I said, “Check the atlas and see how we can head south to cross into the city over the Verrazano Bridge.”
For those who wonder why we use such an antiquated method, I should point out that oldest daughter had offered her GPS for our visit to my brother’s home on Long Island. But I decided against taking responsibility for buying a new one should something happen.
Aside from that issue, though, I doubt we would have known how to search for an alternate route into the city as we flew down I-78 through eastern Pennsylvania.
Fortunately, the detour proved simple. But as we drove across the bridge into Brooklyn, I noticed markings for a left-lane exit to the Belt Parkway. That road would connect with others threading the way to my brother’s home.
The only problem was the continual line of orange cones in the left lane. Plus, along the way, I thought I saw an arrow indicating you could reach the parkway via a right-lane exit. In my confusion, when we finally reached the now-clear left-lane exit, I missed it.
Encounter in Brooklyn
That left us sailing smack dab into Brooklyn, where I suggested looking over the map to find a street would take us to the parkway. Just one problem with a Rand McNally atlas: only the main roads appear.
We did our best, but when you’re wandering through unfamiliar territory and can’t find many of the main streets marked on a map, it’s easy to get confused.
At one point, we turned south, only to discover several blocks block later that was the wrong way. We took the next street north and started over. Finally, the street we were on came to a dead-end. I guessed and turned left, only to see a huge truck double-parked and blocking our lane.
Hoping to find some help, I pulled in behind the truck. Seeing two men talking, I called out, “We need help.”
One of them walked over and asked what was wrong. We replied that we needed to get over to the Belt Parkway but weren’t sure where to turn.
Make My Day
“First thing,” he said with a grin on his face, “put the map down. Those things are more trouble than they’re worth.” My wife obeyed as I reached for the computer directions we had printed for the trip.
“Tell me and I’ll write down the direction so we’ll remember them,” I said.
Turns out we were pretty close. A right turn, a left a block later, and about six blocks down another right turn led to the street that connected with the parkway.
Ultimately, we arrived about 45 minutes later than we would have if I hadn’t missed our exit. But without this unexpected detour, we never would have encountered that friendly stranger who put to rest the unflattering stereotypes I’ve heard about people from Brooklyn.
Indeed, this man gave new meaning to the old phrase: “Make my day.”