Chaos. Crowding. Christmas. | Part II

Tonight of all nights, I needed to get to a program hosted by one of the special interest groups (SIGs) within my professional organization.  The topic was good, and I just couldn’t miss it.  I’d actually forgotten about it until my handy BlackBerry calendar reminded me on Monday.  Of course, I quickly realized it was the same night as the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony.  I knew I would have to deal with the Crowds of Crazy, but I would suck it up and walk the two city blocks/streets to the building where it was being held.

So, I work, work, work today, and of course, I’m running a bit behind schedule.  The program would begin at 6 o’clock but I’m only two blocks away from my destination, right?  Okay, so, I leave my office and immediately, I am caught up in people.  People everywhere.  I mean, everybody and their mother, along with their kids, their friends, their neighbors, and wait, their neighbor’s neighbors.  The only thing missing was the family pet.  All I needed to do was to get from my office building which is at the corner of one street to the opposite end of the street.   I get there…eventually.  By then, it’s even more of a madhouse because you have every European and U.S. Midwestern tourist (and every New Yorker who doesn’t usually come to the “city” in the city) walking in packs, shuffling in the crowd, lost in space.

I’m at the end of the block, and I now need to get to the other side and walk a short block to the building where the program was being held.  Here’s the problem:  The building is directly across from the back of the building where the tree lighting extravaganza would be taking place.  What building is that?  30 Rockefeller Plaza — the building that houses NBC’s headquarters.  So, now, I’m trying to plot my way to the building where the program is being held.  Do I cross the street or do I stay on my side, walk one more block and then cross the street to the building?

I’ll stay on my side.

Bad, bad, bad idea.

Thirty-five minutes later, I arrive at my destination.  I was fit to be tied.  Heated.  Just heated.  At one point I had an exchange with a police officer:

Me (at 47th Street…and mind you, that was past the building where I needed to go):  Why can’t we cross here?

Officer:  You have to walk one more block.

Me:  Are you kidding me?  (He looks…)  No — I walked all the way down here because they (another group of police officers) said we had to cross down here and now we can’t cross here?!

Officer:  You have to walk one more block.

Me:  And how’s that gonna happen?  Look at this crowd.  No-one is moving.  No-one.  This is dangerous because we’re sandwiched between the steel barricades.

Officer:  I know (looking somewhat sympathetic), but that’s what they told me and they keep changing the instructions all the time….(voice trails off)

Urrrgghhhh…Grrrrr.

By the time I arrived at the program, I’d missed 30 minutes, and it was of course in full swing, and I’m like, why did I even bother?   But, I had no choice once I was trapped in Tourist Hell.  Where was I going to go?  I wasn’t tall enough to jump over the barricades.  I mean, I’m only a few inches taller than the thing!  Ugh.   So, it was me against the Europeans and Midwesterners who were obviously delusional because they weren’t going to see that tree if their life depended on it.  They were nowhere near where they needed to be, and unless by magic the crowds closest to the tree all disappeared, which wouldn’t happen, they should have stayed in their hotel rooms and watched the darned tree lighting on NBC.

Madness.  Pure madness!

P.S.  And the President is in town.  Yes, he made his way to New York City for not one but three fundraisers.  And the First Lady was here too for the opening night at the ballet, I think?   Oh, and if things couldn’t have been more nuts, not only was Cee Lo Green performing at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, but so was Usher and, Lord Have Mercy, half-a-pint pop star, Justin Bieber.  Whyyyyyyy?!   Pedestrian traffic and wheel traffic of all kinds — cars, trucks, buses, peditaxis, mopeds, bike messengers, food delivery men on bicycles — such a nightmare!

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