Sunday, December 16, 2007

"A Trip to Gotham City" or "The Christmas Miracle"

Caption: The M&M store in the background should be called the S&M store, for the pain it inflicts upon willing visitors.

A tour of the M&M store in Manhattan, a reunion with long lost Aunt Elanore (a.k.a. Tita Norie), and a dashing car-chase through a crowded parking garage stand out as highlights from our Dec. 15 trip to New York City.

“Why does the Empire State Building keep moving?” asked five-year-old Theo as we approached the skyline.

We were the first to arrive at the Best Western on 48th Street, so the Clarks of New Jersey took a tour of the M&M store – the most unnecessary store in all of retail, unless you like M&M logo golf balls. Still, it was packed. Two employees with bullhorns stood at both ends of the escalators, encouraging the cattle to keep moving, as to avoid nasty and litigious pile ups. Yes, dear reader, the Christmas spirit was in full flow!

A word about Tita Norie: She is Margie’s cousin from St. Louis. Her personality is cheerful, funny, engaging. She works for Bunge – the world’s largest something or other in the soybean processing industry. Norie brought thoughtful gifts for the children, and led Theo by the hand through crowded Times Square to and from Virgil’s restaurant on 44th Street. We hope Norie can some day visit us in Metuchen.

After saying good bye, we walked to the parking garage, retrieved our car, then met the most depressing traffic jam ever encountered by this family. The garage exited onto 50th Street heading toward holiday-jammed Broadway, there was no opening whatsoever, and cars we’re crawling. But that was the least of the problem, because pedestrian traffic – unending and unsympathetic – on the sidewalk in front of our car made any activity on 50th Street moot. It looked hopeless.

Then came our Christmas miracle!

An ambulance begins inching his way down 50th street, lights and sirens blazing. To make way for this new catastrophe, a bus pulls over onto the sidewalk in front of us, crashing into the side of an adjacent building and destroying its awning. Now, our way is completely sealed off by the side of the immobilized bus. As attendants rushed to the crash scene, Daddy seized the opportunity. He put the car in reverse, and headed to the other end of the parking garage, against traffic and amid howls of protest from parking attendants.

The 49th street exit was in clear view, when a small angry man with white hair jumped in front of the car to block my exit. (Apparently, this garage was engaged in some kind of business feud with the other garage.) He looked like he would not let me through, even if it kills him. Margie pleaded with him. Then we told him about the bus, then another attendant pointed toward the blocked exit. Finally, grudgingly, he said “you can go.”

Was the angry man inspired by divine, Christmas angels? Dear reader, who can tell? But the Clarks of New Jersey witnessed a transformation as dramatic as that of Ebeneezor Scrooge or George Bailey. Except, it was real!

For all we know, the bus is still there on the 50th street sidewalk blocking the exit of the garage.

Do you have a Christmas miracle story? Please share it with us.

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