Sunday, March 10, 2019. It was raining when I left my hotel at 8:00 a.m. for Tribeca-Performing Arts Centre, Manhattan, New York, for the NGO 63rd Commission on Status of Women’s Consultation Day. Since the location was too far to walk, I decided to do what New Yorkers do and take the subway. Armed with the directions I got from the hotel concierge, I left excited for my first United Nations’ conference on women and empowerment.
After locating the 42nd street subway, I purchased a ticket that was good for two hours, entered the platform, and started looking for signs for trains #1, 2 or 3. According to the concierge either one would take me to my location. After scanning the area, I saw signs for trains A, B, C etc., but nothing for 1, 2 or 3 so, I asked a young woman if any of the trains went to downtown. To my dismay, I was at the wrong station. After googling on her phone, I was directed to 7th Ave and 41st street station, where I can catch trains #1, 2 and 3 to downtown. I learned that south of Manhattan is referred as downtown, north of Manhattan is referred as uptown and streets that run north and south are referred as crosstown.
Slightly annoyed at the concierge, I exited and left for the 7th ave. Time Square station. I inserted my ticket, leaned forward in anticipation to enter, but to my surprise, I was denied access. My ticket, which I thought, was good for two-hours, had expired – it appears that once the ticket is activated, you cannot exit a station, as the ticket becomes nullified. Holding an expired ticket, I have made zero grounds toward my destination, and time is ticking. I can feel the seed of frustration surging to plant itself.
I purchase my second ticket and enter the platform to catch the train. On the platform I see # 1,2 and 3 tracks going both ways, so I asked a gentleman which side to downtown. To my horror neither side did – I was on the wrong platform. Luckily I didn’t have to exit the station – I just had to cross over to the other side of the platform to catch the train to downtown.
Once on the train, with a sigh of relief and a sense of accomplishment, I looked for the overhead map to determine the number of stops until Chamber Street station. I don’t see Chamber Street station. I try not to panic. After a few stops I asked a lady if Chamber Street station was coming up. As she was trying to explain in her broken English that the station was about seven stops away, she suddenly became vocally and physically animated as she uttered in her beautiful Spanish accent, “I missed my stop”. I made her miss her stop! This caused the Japanese group of tourists sitting across from us to laugh, and me to launch into a sequence of apologies as I desperately try to hide my embarrassment.
Finally, after approximately 20 minutes I arrived at my station where I asked one of the station employees which way to proceed. He directed me to take the right exit and make a right on Chamber Street. I proceeded as informed for about two blocks when I noticed the number were getting smaller. I was looking for 199 Chambers. I stopped and asked a building guard to confirm the direction given to me. He sated that earlier another woman was asking him for the same address and that I should be going the opposed way. It is now 9:15 – I am late. As I rush in the rain, getting relatively wet and late, I numerate and conclude that local New Yorkers do not necessarily know their city very well, and that I am going to google-map everything before I leave for another venue.
When I finally arrived 20 minutes late, the first thing I asked when I entered the hall was if I missed the keynote address, Woman of Distinction 2019, Gharsanay IbnulAmeen. I was told no…phew! I made it. The remaining of the day and the speakers not only made up for my frustrating start, but also set an empowering tone that will carry me for weeks to come.
Stay tuned for a synopsis of the keynote speaker and other inspiring and presenter that cross the gamut from accessible, gender friendly transportation to ending child marriage.