The scene is the Jacob Javits Center. The National Stationery and Surtex show has just ended for the day and the crowds are flooding out.
It is raining.
I was part of this crowd, in the lovely company of Susy Pilgrim Waters—illustrator and artist extraordinaire—lately of Boston, formerly of London. Susy and I go way back so I had good company to walk in the rain in search of a cab.
We tried to hail a cab on 11th Avenue. No dice. Too many fellow show goers vying for them.
We worked our way inward toward midtown, stopping at every corner we came to. Cabs flew by, all occupied or off duty. We attempted to be more assertive. Other people stood a bit further in front of us and a few managed to get a cab. We did not.
The rain proceeded to get worse. We saw a bicycle cab go by, made eye contact with the guy pedaling, and said, in unison, “that’s what we need!” and laughed.
Three or four more corners later we were soaked despite using umbrellas, and—what should pull up—but a bicycle cab. We looked at each other, nodded and jumped into the two seat chamber surrounded by clear plastic.
Our rider strained and got going. I learned how bumpy New York streets are. How steamy it can get in a plastic space on a rainy May day. That being in a bicycle cab made me feel a little lazy and sheepish as our driver worked hard to get us to our destination. And sadly he misunderstood the address of our restaurant and went a bit further than planned.
But seated at a table in a warm, dry place—and a good bit poorer for the ride (every bit well-earned by that driver)—we relaxed and laughed some more about our funny evening so far, and ordered spring rolls and curried shrimp.
The next morning, leaving the neighborhood deli with my coffee in hand, and three heavy bags slung over my shoulder—all while balancing my shattered, tattered, black-crow of an umbrella in the other hand—I saw a cab roll into view, yellow vacancy light shining. All I could do, so as not to upset the complete apple cart, was feebly raisy an elbow as the cab disappeared behind a box truck. I imagined it picking up someone at the end of the block in the next moment. But it was nowhere in sight. Where did it go? I stumbled in the opposite direction to get beyond the box truck and there was the cab, waiting for me! Luck of all luck!
I exclaimed happiness as I entered the cab—balancing the open coffee on the floorboards, tossing in the soggy, mutilated umbrella, and shedding the heavy bags before pulling myself in. The whole story of the previous evening poured out and the cab driver and I had a jolly conversation the whole way to Javits about being blessed, laughing off minor misfortune, and realizing that a few hours of walking in the rain hold not a fig to a flooded house or an earthquake. We need that perspective every so often.
See Susy Pilgrim Water’s Boston home featured on Design*Sponge.