By Lisa Cherry
We had a three hour time window before our flight home, and we were determined to see some of the Big Apple. We walked down the subway stairs and my heart was racing. I knew that none of us knew what we were doing.
Kalyn, Adam, Nathan and I were there for the greater New York City Acquire the Fire event, and it had been a great success. With 11,000 guests, this was a super-sized effort to ransom a young generation. After two days of effective ministry, we had just a few hours to get to Manhattan and figure out what we could see.
Someone had suggested that an all day subway pass would be our best bet to zip around town and see some of the hot spots. Perhaps that someone had succeeded in New York before; I am not sure. But at the subway terminal we tried, the all day pass was nowhere to be found on the poster of choices.
In the eyes of the native New Yorkers we must have appeared to be the goofiest of tourists as we tried to trace the complex route on the wall map with our fingers. After we lost our first $10 in the ticket machine, a kind gentleman noticed our ineptness and offered his advice. We needed the R route to get to the Statue of Liberty, he said. So with scan-able tickets in hand we hopped on the R route and headed for Manhattan.
We were giddy with excitement as the train railed through the first two stops. Then the subway operator made an announcement that troubled us: “Last stop for upper Manhattan coming up. This is an express route to Brooklyn skipping all lower Manhattan destinations.”
Skipping? Oh no! We quickly jumped off the train.
We were newbies and we knew that we needed more help. Too bad we didn’t think to ask for it before we left the turnstile area. Frustrated, we found no live person to help us.
So Kalyn decided to try the passenger assistance button. She pressed the button and spoke into the little hole in the wall at the station.
I was shaken when a voice answered us from the hole. “Buy a ticket and get back on the R route” was the response. So what else could we do? We went back for a second try.
By this time, Kalyn had assumed command, determined that she had cracked the code. Our fearless leader confidently pointed out the stops on the wall map with a triumphant smile on her face—until the subway announced the next stop.
With a startled look on her face, she sprang to her feet and her finger went back to work on the map. “Quick!” she shouted, “Everyone out!” We jumped off the train just before the doors closed.
Our tour guide wasn’t sure what had gone wrong, but we had somehow gotten on the route to Brooklyn again. We stood on the platform for a moment, exasperated. Maybe we weren’t cut out for the subway, we decided. Not feeling the confidence to try another train, we headed for the steps.
At that point Adam called our attention to the giant rat sitting on the side of the tracks. One glance at that thing and we were up those stairs in a New York minute.
Our heads broke up to street level and we found that we were lost in Chinatown. Don’t ask me how. We felt like we were in one of those crazy Escape from New York movies!
With only Chinese writing on the signs around us, we were not left with many options. So we set out walking. Care to know how many blocks it is from Chinatown to the Statue of Liberty Park? 29. And as city blocks there are 1/20 of a mile, our trek was exactly 1.45 miles.
But we were determined and would not be denied. We would finish strong in the Big Apple and see Lady Liberty even if we were walking in boots and loafers.