For some reason, hearing people speak French in public makes me feel inferior. Not necessarily because of the Frenchiness of it all, but because I took four years of French in high school, six semesters of it in college, and I still don't understand a damn word when someone's speaking it.
Wireless Internet connection in the hotel is kind of spotty, so any web page that comes up is hard-won, a product of trial and error. I find that I get most impatient when I'm trying to load Google. If I'm trying to load a website like eastwestnyc.com and it says, "Firefox cannot find the server," I cut it a little slack, but when it can't find Google I get extra-frustrated. "Come on," I want to say, "it's just Google!" (Note to the irony-impaired. I know that a server is a server and, when the connection drops, Google is as hard to find as anything.)
Travel can be more fun when you choose places to go based on their name. In this case, when I saw "Hell's Kitchen Flea Market" on the map, I was all into going. I didn't ask if it was recommended or famous or highly rated; I just had to go. It's the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market. Why wouldn't I go?
Trams fly past the window of our room. We have a view of a bridge that alternately makes me hum Simon & Garfunkel and David Mead songs, and alongside the bridge there are cables that carry trams across the river. (I'd never heard the word "tram" used to describe an above-ground cable car before, so I was puzzled the first time Stee mentioned them.) So for another why-the-hell-not moment, we took the tram over the river, took a bus around Roosevelt Island, then came back.
At the bus's first stop after the tram station, the driver flipped out the wheelchair ramp and a grizzled man in a wheelchair and army uniform got on the bus. He told the driver, "Guess what? I got robbed today. By the bank."
I heard the driver's voice, muffled by the barrier between us, "How did that happen?"
"They exchanged money for me, but didn't give me enough. Last night, I was sleeping on Forty-Second Street, and this lady came and put a twenty-pound note in my pocket. So I took it to the bank, right? And they give me $32.45 for it. And I know that ain't right."
A muffled follow-up question from the driver.
"No, see, a pound is five dollars. So I should have got more than that."
"I think a pound used to be a buck fifty or so."
"No, a pound is five dollars. I always known that. So cause I have twenty pounds, they shoulda given me eighty."
The driver said, "Are you sure?"
"No, I ain't sure! But I do know that a pound ought to be five dollars. One dollar, that's a shilling."