Thursday, April 20, 2006

The NYC Diaries- Day 6: Anticlimatic

You're supposed to end with some sort of big finish -- some overwhelming experience that defies your expectations and forever alters your perspective. Sorry, wish I could help you here.

I spent this final day checking out two of New York's musuems: The Museum Of The City Of New York, and the Museum of TV & Radio. The Guggenheim was also on my list, but unfortunately, that was closed. On to the backup plan.

The City of NY museum is low profile and well worth the $10 admission price. It's a great place to learn about the history of Times Square, Broadway, and New York City lighting. They also had an exhibition of cartoons from The New Yorker, something I enjoyed immensely.

When I got to the shipping exhibit on the second floor and started looking around, a docent stepped right up to me and started unspooling every fact in her head -- every fact. She told me of the Dutch settling New York (aka New Amsterdam), then the British, then a parade of others. She pointed out everything in the room and had at least three or four factoids to go along with it. She knew much more than I would ever want to know, but kindness halted me from interrupting her.

This is why: one of these days, when I'm done with producing newscasts, I have this retirement fantasy. I see myself moving to Virginia and becoming an historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. I see myself living in the past, dressed in tricorn and breeches, leading people through the Governor's Palace, or maybe the Raleigh Tavern, or the Court House, or one of the myriad historic homes. I have appreciation for people who have an overflowing love of history and enjoy sharing it.

So after this fifteen-minute presentation, I liberated myself to the next floor.

My other major stop of the day was the Radio & TV museum, after a bus ride and some hunting to find the place. I thought it was on West 57th Street. It's on 51st. When I finally did find it, I had another problem: they don't take credit cards for admission and I was low on cash.

So now I have to locate an ATM. No way am I going to pay fees, so I need something from Bank of America. The nearest machine I can find is in the concourse of the Rockefeller Center. I found a Bank of America ATM branch down there.

The cash machine took my card. And then it just plain took me... for 40 bucks.

Now in a regular bank, you can go to a teller and complain. But when there's no teller, what do you do?

A woman entered and sensed I was about to punch that ATM straight in the LCD.

"His ze cash machine nyot working?" she inquired in her Russian accent.

"Yeah, it just ripped me off."

"Hoh my Gott. Dyo you haff cyell phone?"

"No. I don't have one on me right now."

"I vas thinkink hof gyetting some money, but nyow I no do."

I found a guard who directed me to the Bank of America Branch down the street. The Customer Service rep in there directed me to the bank's toll-free number on the back of the card. They said the charge would reverse after midnight.

"The ATM knows it didn't give out money?"

"It sure does."

"What if it doesn't?"

"Then you can file a claim with us tomorrow."

For my money, that charge better well reverse.

Back at the Museum of TV and Radio, the most interesting feature is the library, where you can view classic episodes of TV you can't find on DVD, video or anywhere else. Non-members get two picks and one hour of viewing time. My pick: the infamous episode of Twenty-One where Charles Van Doren defeated Herb Stempel in a rigged game which would later become the flashpoint of the 50's quiz show scandals. This was dramatized in the movie Quiz Show, but seeing the original show is much more thrilling.

So here were are in Times Square again. Bright lights, big city. It's nearly time to go home, and I'm enjoying a last night on the town... maybe not doing anything awe-inspiring, uplifting or life-changing, but the atmosphere is everything. You won't find this in Tucson. You won't find this anywhere else.

Tomorrow, homeward bound and back to the real world.

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