just a post

I Heart New York… (T-22)

…but definitely could have done without the completely ridiculous adventures I had getting there and coming back home.

So first, we all had a great time in Las Vegas! I didn’t lose all my money, ONLY half, which for me is a mighty accomplishment. It is actually due to me not playing craps the way I was supposed to be, and I lost my money accordingly. But the last night I was there, I played for 5 hours doing the things I was supposed to and outlasted tons of people at my table. It was sweet. But of course there was a lot of stuff that went on, but I’d rather wait till I put together all my pics and then do a proper Las Vegas update. So hold your horses on that, wouldya?

As for the debacle that is also known as my New York City interview trip… Well, let’s just say that if I don’t get a job offer, the signs were definitely there to back that decision up. So I was set to leave on the 7th of August, a Tuesday, from Colorado Springs, flying to Denver first, and then taking a direct flight from Denver to LaGuardia airport in New York, arriving around 6:30 in the evening. I was planning to check in to my hotel out near the airport and then take the train in to make sure I knew how long it would take to walk from the subway to 30 Rock, and also just to get a chance to be a tourist again in NYC and take some pictures (please note, I have NO pictures from NYC, so you now have an idea of how things went in the future…). I get to the check-in counter at Colorado Springs and the counter agent makes a face and goes, “Oh, that’s not good…”. Wonderful. I was beginning to think of my Puerto Rico travel nightmare, which up until these past two days was one of, if not THE worst, travel experience ever.

So why wasn’t that good? Because it turned out United (who I pledge to never fly again on if I can help it) had cancelled my flight from Denver to LaGuardia. No reason given, just cancelled. And the gate agent could not find any other flights to get me to NYC that day. She would get real real close to finding something, then nope, not available. We even tried going West first, going to LAX then maybe flying direct to NYC that way. Not happening. Finally, 30 minutes later, she found a way: Take my original flight from CS to Denver, then fly from Denver to Dulles Intl in DC, then Dulles to LaGuardia. But of course that many flights means I get there later – and yes, amazingly, all those flights actually flew as expected and I got to town around 11:45 pm. So sightseeing and studying my notes and reviewing stuff for the interview…didn’t happen. Then I thought I’d take the hotel courtesy shuttle from LaGuardia to the Holiday Inn Hotel I was staying at in Queens (btw, I was totally in Ugly Betty’s neighborhood). About 35 minutes later, the shuttle finally comes after I had called in a request to get picked up. So now I finally get to the hotel around 12:30 or so and then end up having to pay for the hotel room myself because the hotel needs to see the physical card that it was booked on, but of course I didn’t book it with a card of my own, GE Travel did. Whatever, I am hoping to get reimbursed for that. The cool part of the day was getting travel advice from the very New Yawker hotel guy Mike at the front counter, so I felt confident in getting into the city the next day and having plenty of time for an on-time arrival. So I get my clothes ready for the interview, and promptly pass out in my bed (which was in a suite, sweet!)…

….and wake up to the sound of torrential rain on my window around 6 in the morning. I think, “Oh great” but realize, okay, fine, I’ll take a cab instead like the NBC people had suggested. But I turn on the local morning news and find out that the rain had been part of a torrential storm that NYC hadn’t seen the like of in forever. Trains were stalled in floodwaters, tunnels were closed – the city’s transportation infrastructure was basically down to a standstill. Ohhh…..kay….. So I eat some breakfast (a bowl of cereal cause I was a bit nervous about the whole interview) and then get the front desk to call me a cab around 7:45 am to ensure I’d be down to 30 Rock by 10. I rush up to my room, change into my suit, pack everything fast, check out of my room, and realize I’ve just “hurried up and waited”. Because my cab didn’t show up till about 9:15am, because basically everyone in New York was cabbing it in to the city and there were no spare cabs around. So by this point, I figured there was no way in hell I was going to be on time, so I repeatedly called the POC who I was supposed to call in case of problems, and no answer any of the times. So I’m thinking I’m screwed. But I get in my cab, which turned out to be a towncar (leather seats, nice!!! – what a way to go to the city for an interview in a nice suit – I’m totally ready for NYC), and my crafty driver drove us through the back streets of Queens (to avoid the completely stalled Grand Central Parkway) and over one of the bridges into Manhattan and onto one of the highways at the perimeter of the island. Manhattan is huge. Anyways, after all that great speed and progress, the slowest part of the drive in ended up being while driving on 49th St from the shore towards 30 Rock, which is between 5th and 6th Avenues. By a miracle of God, I ended up at 30 Rock’s plaza at 10:05, which for all intents and purposes was on time. I walked briskly by all the hordes of tourists who wanted to go take the NBC tour and look at the Today Show’s windows and made it into the inner sanctum of the NBC elevators – and the interview began! But not before I realized I had no idea how to operate NY elevators – I got in one that was open and discovered there were no buttons inside to press. So I exited and figured it must be a private elevator or something. Then I see a guy get in another elevator and jump in with him. I was to go to the 2nd floor – we went to the 7th. There again were no buttons to press inside the elevator. I really began to think I was not nearly as sophisticated as I thought I was, and in fact quite a retard. Then it dawned on me – there was a bank of buttons off to the side of the many elevators that had numbers on them – and you press the number of the floor you want to get on there and then a little display tells you which elevator to wait in front of that will take you there. Definitely not what I was used to!

The guys who interviewed were totally cool about the small delay I had and didn’t seem to hold it against me. I ended up getting interviewed by 5 different people throughout the morning and afternoon (each on their own – it wasn’t a panel interview) and throughout the interview we would walk around to the main guts of the NBC broadcasting facility, which was amazing. The NORAD command center has nothing on this place, seriously. I saw where they put together and distribute all the feeds for each of the different time zones, as well as the ‘Live’ control booths where people monitor and edit the Today Show, NBC News live broadcasts, and Live Sports events. It was pretty cool. Anyways, I think the interviews ended up well (my recruiter called me this afternoon and said that he received positive feedback from the NBC folks today and that they liked me a lot….we’ll just see if that equates into a job offer). Around 2 though, I left from the 2nd building I had to go to (the last person was in a building on Madison Avenue, so I hoofed it over there looking like any other number of NY business folk) and decided against a cab this time as I still wanted to go on a subway. So I walked down Madison Avenue towards Grand Central Station – which was incredible. I was literally in one of the world’s most recognizable transportation centers, and it didn’t disappoint. So that was about the extent of my sightseeing – NBC and Grand Central Station – yes, that’s not a lot but that’s all the time I had. I did find the subway station I needed to go to and got on a train easy enough to take me right back to the Queens area near my hotel. Of course, the weather was ridiculously muggy now that it had rained all morning, so my suit was not exactly keeping me cool. But I got back to the 111th St & Roosevelt Ave station for Subway #7 and walked my way through definitely the most hispanic part of Queens I could have found, me, the white boy in a suit, strutting my way as if I had no care in the world. And honestly, there was nothing to care about at that point, as my interview was done and now I got to go home…..

….or did I? Basically, I got to LaGuardia and immediately saw that my departing flight from LaGuardia to O’Hare (another airport I will do my damndest to avoid if at all possible – that is the worst airport ever for delays, EVEN over Atlanta) had been delayed about a half hour. Okay, I should still have time to make my connecting flight from O’Hare to CS. So I check in, get through security, and find that LaGuardia is the worst airport ever for in-terminal food. Seriously. They had nothing, so I decided to go to Auntie Em’s pretzel place and the service people tell me that not only do they not have any food for another 10-15 minutes, the sodas from the fountain are almost hot. What….the…..FUCK???? So I tell them to go fuck themselves like a true New Yorker (okay, I didn’t do that, but in my head I did) and find a bakery-ish place and get a croissant and once again, a god-damn WARM bottled soda. But fine, I was thirsty, and wanted the soda. Anyways, I then discover that LaGuardia is the world’s worst airport for seats in the terminal. This place was a madhouse and apparently all the flights out had been delayed. Joyous. I do find a seat and soon realize that I’m sitting across from the Food guy from the Queer Eye guys. That was possibly the only highlight to the trip home. Because I soon realize that my flight has been delayed for not just a half hour, but a full hour and 15 minutes. That’s a potential problem. But I’ll play it by ear. So eventually we board the plane and as the plane taxis out, I nod off…only to wake up and realize we’re still not flying. At all. Then I hear the captain say that basically the ground traffic controller had directed us to one runway only to not let us take off and direct us to another! WTF? We finally get in the air around 7pm, a full 2 hours after I was originally supposed to leave, and unfortunately I had about 50 minutes for a layover in Chicago. So naturally when I get to Chicago I see I’ve not only missed my flight to CS, but there are no more for the rest of the evening, as by now it was around 9pm. I then go wait in the ridiculously long and slow customer service line to find out my options to get home. I see there’s still a Denver flight that leaves Chicago around 10:25pm….I may have a chance to get home on that, as I’d just ask a friend to come pick me up. So I slowly make my way through the line till it’s about 9:40pm – and the lady tells me that there’s no confirmed seats on that flight but did I want to know what I was rebooked on? I say, sure, thinking that if I can’t get on standby for tonight’s flight I’m surely going to get home the next morning. Well, she kind of chuckles in a way that means it’s about to preface bad news, and it was: not only was I not rebooked on any flights the next day (Thursday), I wasn’t going to be confirmed on any flights even on Friday (whether it be to Colorado Springs OR Denver)! Basically I couldn’t get a seat for sure until about Saturday. And because it was a weather delay from LaGuardia, United was not going to pay for a hotel. I think she realized how fucked this was so she signed me up for a United Mileage program which she told me entitled me to a higher position on the standby list (WHO KNEW?! So a lesson to all you out there, like me, who find that you fly standby a LOT more than you ever expected to, especially this summer! Sign up for those damn membership mileage programs, it’s in your best interest). So I walked over to the gate, praying to all the gods I could think of, to just get me home tonight. I did NOT want to spend the night at the airport. And amazingly, I ended up getting a seat and got to fly to Denver, where thankfully Jeff was willing to pick me up.

So seriously, the interview turned out to be the easiest part of my trip. And that doesn’t make much sense to me. But apparently I’ll hear back, yay or nay, by early next week if NBC is interested in making an offer. Cross your fingers.

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