Monday, December 26, 2011

Our Crazy Ass Christmas Eve Commute from Hell.

You don't need a car if you live in the city. However, you do need a car Christmas Eve morning when you have a baby and a three-and-a-half-year-old, and you have to get out of the city. But considering Zip cars are $120 a day—and I'm not raking in the dough at the moment—it was cheaper to take the train.

My plan was for the McGoldstein Klan to leave our apartment in Battery Park City at 12:30 to make the 2 o’clock to Fairfield—leaving from Grand Central Station. "Don't you think that's a lot of time?” Brooke asked. And I told her that I’m not rushing like a crazy person this time. “Okay, so let's get moving." We showered, got the kids dressed, packed the presents, and then somehow at 12:25, Brooke was still blow drying her hair, Rowan was eating a peanut butter sandwich watching Heat Miser on YouTube, and Hunter was being held prisoner in his Rainforest Jumparoo. 

We ran out of our building at 1 o’clock towards the subway. "We can still make it!" I yelled, dragging Rowan by her hand, carrying a massive Nike duffel bag over my shoulder, overstuffed with more toys than Santa—you'd think we were going to Europe for a week, not one night to Connecticut—while Brooke pushed Hunter in the stroller. The Wall Street station didn’t have an elevator for the stroller, so we had to run seven blocks out of our way—just past the big-balled, tourist-touching brass bull—to Bowling Green. Only the elevator never came. The sign read: OUT OF SERVICE. "Oh, great." We had no choice but to take the stairs. Brooke carried Hunter and I carried the clumsy stroller with the glittery Christmas presents flopping around in the bottom compartment. Then I had to go back up and carry Rowan down. "Carry me, dada."

The train was pulling in. "Hurry up, Brooke, go!" I swiped my Metro card for her to go first with the stroller. "Great, we're going to make it." No, we weren't. Because when I swiped my card for me and Rowan to go through, the turnstile read: INSUFFICIENT FARE. "Oh, shit." I pushed Rowan under the turnstile to Brooke, and I ran like hell to the ticket machine. When we finally boarded the train, it was 1:34pm -- 26 minutes to get there. "We can still make it." When we got to Grand Central, fortunately the elevator was working. Unfortunately, the lines were very long for Metro North. Brooke and I had to divide and conquer. She waited on line with Hunter, and I took off with Rowan on a mission to get the handicapped section seats that flip up so we can put the stroller—parents know what I’m talking about.

As the train filled up, I raced with Rowan down the platform looking in every car. No seats. No seats. No seats. Then, I saw Brooke racing towards us with the stroller with a look of panic on her face. "What are you doing!?!" she screamed. "Those cars don't open at Fairfield!" So we raced back down the platform scrambling for seats anywhere. The train just kept filling up with packs of people from every nationality, carrying luggage, strollers, presents, and whiny dogs. We ended up sitting separately, including the stroller, we had to park it by the door, which meant Brooke had to hold cranky, hungry Hunter. As for Rowan, and me, we sat a few aisles away, with our knee caps touching these non-talkative Peruvians.

When we finally took off, I kept Rowan entertained by letting her watch The Grinch Who Stole Christmas on my phone. Brooke kept Hunter entertained and quiet, by covering herself up and giving him some boob. At last, things calmed down for us. But not for the stroller. We stopped in Stanford and about 30 more people boarded, but the train wasn't moving. I looked up to see why. Our stroller was half on the train, the other on the platform—good times. When we finally arrived at our station destination, Brooke’s dad was waiting in a slick, black Mercedes minivan that he borrowed from his neighbor.  The only problem was that the car seats weren’t installed. Thirty minutes later, after sweating to death, trying to install the fucking life savers—who designs these things, anyway?—we drove away. What a morning. What a day. We were home free. Not quite. Brooke's dad took the scenic route to show us the lighthouse on the Sound. And Rowan showed us her breakfast. She barfed all over her coat and the back seat. Poor thing.

That evening, after we cleaned up the puke in the car, washed her coat, made a Christmas tree cheese cake with jelly beans, fed the kids, and put them to bed, Brooke and I finally sat down and had a drink by the fireplace. Ten minutes later, Rowan screamed from the bed room upstairs, “Mama, I want Pookie! I want Pookie!” so Brooke went upstairs to look for her stuffed pink elephant. She tiptoed in the dark trying not to wake Hunter up. “Owwww!," Brooke screamed like she was attacked by the abominable snowman. You ready for this one—she broke her fucking toe.

It turned out to be a wonderful Christmas. Relaxing with our family, sipping good wine, feasting on clams and calamari. That night, we filled Rowan's and Hunter's stockings and left cookies for Santa. But Brooke and I dreaded the next day. We didn’t think we could handle it again. And we didn’t have to. We had a Christmas Day Metro North miracle waiting for us at the station. We scored handicapped seats. We sat together. And there was no vomit.

We all laughed about our adventure walking home from the subway, even Brooke and her broken toe. That night, we made a pact. Next year, screw the presents, spend the money on a car.

Merry Christmas from the McGoldstein's!
p.s. I never mentioned that I'm Jewish

Leave a comment, to share your crazy commuting experiences.


  1. This was hilarious! It was was so wild that it had to be real. I always say the high price of living in NY is our sanity and this is a perfect example of it. :-)

  2. Excellent Writing. I felt like I was there.

  3. Dude you make me appreciate my Christmas and Chanukah even more!


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