Entry Two: Sunday 29th July
New York: The Land of Saying ‘No’
I didn’t have time to upload a blog yesterday as it ended up being such a busy day and I was getting a lot of funny looks in the tiny Starbucks while I happily rinsed their internet, having finished my drink hours earlier (or at least it seemed like it.) It appears though that Starbucks is the only way I’m going to be able to keep in touch with people, so things may be a little delayed as we tend to only go in there in the mornings for a cheeky bit of Facebooking. It seems slightly uneconomical; it’s either $10 for 24 hours of wifi in the hotel or $10 dollars for two drinks and free wifi in Starbucks, but then, we don’t have to get coffee every morning, and at least in there we do get a drink and aren’t confined to our room.
Anyway, wifi rant over, I’ll begin with Saturday, which seems so long ago now, it being 5:30 Sunday evening. Saturday had been planned long in advance as the day in which we would go and see the Yankees play the Red Sox (baseball!) but that wasn’t till 4pm…more on that disaster later.
Thus we took it upon ourselves to explore more sights, namely, the Rockefeller Centre, followed by Central Park. We didn’t exactly go in to the centre, more so looked around, but the sights were enough to take a few decent pictures.
Which leads me to our next faux pas. Lunch. Knowing of the impending Yankees Game and the inevitable shocking food and drink prices that stadiums love to charge (more on that later!) we decided to eat a lot while we could, and, being English and pathetic, went for what we knew, in the form of TGI Fridays.
You have to hand it to American waiting staff- they really do try. But then again, they work for their tips, and following a delectable California burger/steak and ribs, we were presented with the bill, which alone, was enough to make one’s heart stop.
Just remember the exchange rate. Just remember the exchange rate.
$65. That, sadly, is not even the worst part- asides from Craig’s $7.55 pint, the biggest joke of all was what was written on the receipt. In England, it’s standard practice to give 10% whether the waiter treated you like royalty or ruffians; in America, they have a whole tiered system. There, before our eyes, was a calculated breakdown:
STD SERVC: 10% $6.50
GD SERVC: 15% $10.00
GRT SERVC: 20% 13.00
I honestly couldn’t believe it- not only was there a suggested service charge but they’d also guilt-tripped us into having to decide upon whether it was standard, good, or great service! Does this mean to say that in England at the very best our waiters and waitresses give standard service? As Craig rightly pointed out, were the service only to be ‘standard’, should we even tip at all?
With a little part of us dying inside we gave the man $75 and left. $75 for lunch. $75 for two drinks and two mains, no less. After that we decided not to eat out unless we absolutely had to, at least, not in New York!
The next part of our day leads me to the title of my blog; in New York, it seems, you just have to say no. With a little time before we had to head off to our Yankees game, we decided to take a walk to Central Park, and, had we had a dollar for every time a vendor in the street tried to sell us something- tours, bike rides, designer handbags…well, we’d probably have had enough to cover us for lunch. The worst part, however, was in Central Park itself.
There we were sat, on a rock, minding our own business, when a rather angelic character came up to us and began with, ‘good afternoon madam, sorry to disturb your beauty…’
No worries mate, you’re not disturbing, it’s more of a constant state than an action.
He then began to recite a well-rehearsed tale of how he had helped build a charity which served to house 10,000 homeless children, yadda yadda yadda. I’m not heartless to say the least but having spent $75 on lunch, wasn’t feeling particularly charitable. We couldn’t get a word in edgeways however so we thought we’d let him have his moment. And that he did.
As soon as the words ‘I’m sorry…’ left Craig’s mouth he rolled his eyes at us and minced off angrily, not even giving Craig the opportunity to volunteer a reason. Wow. And I thought all charitable people were nice people. Obviously not. I honestly didn’t get over his rudeness until we were at the Yankee Stadium, but that’s another tale. There’s the moral of the story kids- always say ‘no’ in New York, to vendors, to expensive restaurants, and certainly to rude chuggers.
The next part of our day and what would turn out to be its entirety was the Yankees Game. I’ve warbled a little as it is, so, long story short, it would be nice if Americans could make up their minds! The game was delayed by two hours due to rain, which became heavy, heavy rain, and there were thousands of us simply sitting waiting for the announcement that the game had been called off. No such announcement was made, however, and having dressed and re-dressed the pitch, the game finally went ahead, and finished around half past nine rather than seven as we were expecting. The Yankees ultimately lost, but we benefitted from the kindness of the couple next to us who lent us something to wear during the downpour, and the hilarity of a Boston Red Sox fan getting arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
One subway ride and slice of classic New York pizza later, we were back at the hotel and ready for bed, glad to be away from the $11 beer on sale at the Yankee Stadium. And I’m signing off for now, as this blog has been very delayed in posting!