I am currently in Holtsville New York, out on Long Island, searching for a place to live. The reason for this is that three weeks ago I accepted a job offer from Stony Brook Hospital to work as a Programmer on their Cerner team. I’m excited about the job, and begin orientation on Thursday.
The last time I flew was in 2004. I was flying to Kentucky for a competition with DECA, so I wasn’t familiar with airlines or the way they did things currently. Going off of my 2004, close to 9/11 knowledge, I decided that I wanted to get to the airport 4 hours early so that I would have enough time to get through security.
Getting through security took 5 minutes, and it only took that long because I forgot my wallet in my pocket and had to go through twice.
KC Airport was sparsely populated. I put that up mostly to the hour I got there, but as I sat there outside Gate 73, I only saw a few more people show up. I wandered down the terminal and found United’s gate, and found it to be crowded. Clearly, I was flying out on an airline that wasn’t particularly popular. (Note: Their marketing says they are the fastest growing airline in the US, but then, I could make the same claim based on percentages if I fly 1 person this week, and 10 people next week. That’s 1000% growth in a WEEK!)
At around 11:45 I got worried. They said we would begin boarding at Gate 73 at 11:30. I was sitting outside Gate 73 since 10:00, and it was closed. Super closed. Closed beyond closed. Turns out they’d told me the wrong gate, and my flight had been boarding for 30 minutes. (They started early – surprise surprise from an airport!)
I was originally supposed to be one of the first people boarded, since I’d paid for an upgraded seat. (PS. glad that I did that, because the seats were ridiculously small behind me, and there was no leg room for anyone.) Unfortunately, I got to the gate, so they made me board with everyone
The flight itself was uneventful. Take-off, fly through the sky, land on the ground. I got a couple of pretty cool shots while I was in the air, though. The guy sitting in the seat beside me slept for a bit, then he played a game that looked like Mortal Kombat on his tablet. After that, he read. Turns out he installed seats on airplanes for the company we were flying for, and he told me about a new seat belt that they were installing on some seats. (They are like airbags, when they hit the water, they “explode” like an airbag and make sure you can float. Just what I want next to my crotch.)
But I got some cool pics of the ground as we flew.
I landed in Detroit. It was nothing exciting, but no sooner had I turned my phone back from Airplane mode than my phone started ringing. It was a friend, (Jesse) calling to ask if I’d left yet. So she was the first person to find out that I’d landed safely in Detroit. (Sorry, Candice/Mom/Tara/Other nerds.)
Detroit was quite different than KC. I expected to have a pretty long layover, but they began boarding about 20 minutes after I landed. That was pretty nice. (It was also nice that I accidentally stumbled into my gate, because I thought I would have to find a counter to check in at first.)
The airport itself was nice. It was clean, very long, and straight. In the movies, they always show the moving sidewalks – this had those, and I got to enjoy walking quickly across them. It was pretty fun, but I didn’t get to explore much, because I got back onto the plane.
Now, the first airport didn’t have a lot of interesting people in it. You’d think you could do some cool people watching at an airport, any airport, really. But KC was pretty boring. The most interesting thing I saw was a nun, followed by a Pakistani family that got delayed just a bit as they went through security, but nothing out of the ordinary. Detroit, however, was a different story.
I was walking around looking for a check-in counter, when a man walked past me. Now, I don’t like big crowds, and while there wasn’t a huge crowd here, there was definitely a larger-than-I-like crowd. So I was quickly adjusting my bags so that they were closer to my body. (I’m terrified of being pickpocketed.) The guy looked at me, nodded, and adjusted the hat on his head. It was white, and it looked like a Fisherman’s Bucket Hat with a multi-colored band around the crown.
“You gon’ be a millionaire,” he said, flashing a grin of big white teeth. The guy seemed pretty laid back, but he was walking at a quick pace. He nodded again, pointed, and smiled again. “Got a future millionaire here,” he said again, as he vanished around the corner. I laughed and nodded my head at him, but immediately grabbed for my wallet to make sure it wasn’t missing.
Like I said: I’m really scared of getting pickpocketed.
Boarding the plane was pretty boring. I was able to board quickly, this time. I was seated right up front by the window again, and a young girl that was obsessed with her phone and fashion magazines sat down beside me. A few minutes later, another young woman got on the plane, and had a hula hoop with her.
I shit you not. Her Hula Hoop was her carry on luggage. She said she’d paid for it, and that she’d been using it as carry on all day. (She had an Australian accent, and when I saw her smoking and hula hooping later, she was smoking a hand-rolled cigarette that reminded me of the cheap things you see people smoke in movies.)
For those that don’t know, Michigan is on one of the Great Lakes. Not the largest Great Lake, but it was definitely interesting to fly over it, and Lake Eerie. I could almost akin it to flying over the ocean. Looking down, you saw nothing but water. Off in the distance, though, I could barely make out land. Water on the ground always looks dark to me. Sometimes a grey color, sometimes a vague, murky green. From the sky, though, all the water looked a gorgeous blue. I truly enjoyed the sight as we flew over it, and I managed to snap one of my favorite pictures so far.
So, the girl who was sitting beside me? She annoyed me to no end. The flight staff told us to put our phones in airplane mode, and she waited until we were barreling down the runway to put it onto Airplane mode. Additionally, she kept removing it from airplane mode while we were flying. Not sure if cell towers work at 30,000 feet, but she certainly seemed frustrated as she kept checking her messages.
But. We made it to New York without crashing, so I was only mildly annoyed.
I don’t think, being from the Midwest, that there’s anything that prepares you for seeing Manhattan from the sky for the very first time. I’ve seen video, I’ve seen pictures, and I knew that New York City was huge.
But wow. That is one impressive chunk of human engineering. There were sections that had similar buildings, but at first all I saw were miles of concrete jungle, completely eradicating nature. But there were pockets, (large pockets, surprisingly) of what appeared to be wild-formed trees. These were probably campuses, or government controlled parks. But they were vibrant, lush blankets in an otherwise grey and red city.
So we landed, and I left the plane, and immediately noticed how different LaGuardia was compared to Detroit and KCI. Both of those were very clean, bright, and opening. They seemed welcoming, and inviting. LaGuardia does not. It is dirty, dark, hot, and cramped. I went down to baggage claim, grabbed my bag, and headed out to catch a shuttle to go get my rental car. That, of course, couldn’t be easy. I missed the first shuttle and had to wait an extra twenty minutes for him to come by again. But I got to the rental place in record time. The guy was chatty and friendly, he helped me load my bag onto the bus, and he gave me some advice, (which I followed) in getting to my hotel quickly.
Now, the first thing I noticed when I got to the rental place was how many cars there were. Quite a lot. More than an average car lot in Missouri. The second thing that I noticed was the spikes. They were curved blades sticking up out of the ground, intended to keep someone from stealing the cars. These places are 24/7 locations. I wonder sometimes about how people can manage so cramped together. I wonder if that, in and of itself, causes the worst of humanity to rear its head.
The woman behind the counter was clearly stressed out. Some guys (a family of 5) were in there, talking about a car accident they had been in. Another guy was trying to haggle price, and she was trying to get two other guys their rentals ready to go. The phone rang non-stop, too. This was actually my first experience with how people handle their phones locally. That is to say, they don’t. I saw a number of people hang up, or ignore, their phone while I was around. (And this is part of why I had difficulty getting anyone to talk to me about an apartment.)
When she finally got around to me, she was very sweet and pretty kind. She gave me a Jeep Cherokee, and the check-in process was relatively quick. It was only as I got to my hotel that I realized she skipped my reservation online and set up a new charge for me.
Communication is not the strong key in New York, it seems.
After getting out of the city, though, everything went smooth, mostly. The driving wasn’t as bad as I’d been lead to believe, (although I saw my fair share of stupid drivers.) The people haven’t been as rude as expected, (but they don’t tell you anything, either. ) The guy that checked me into my room was courteous, but he forgot to tell me that there was going to be a $250 hold on my card until I check out on Saturday morning. Friendly guy, just could do with a bit more communication.
In fact, everyone up here seems to do one of two things: Talk to you and ignore giving you pertinent details, or ignore you while they talk to others, and expect you to do things without being prompted. A prime example of this was at the Gas Station. I was buying a soda, and this guy was talking to a pretty woman. (She walked in before me, got into line after me.) She crowded me really close, putting her stuff down right next to mine, while they talked about the weather. He picked up my stuff, scanned it, all the while without breaking eye contact with her. I scanned my card, and he handed me my receipt, and then nudged a pen. Still, without even looking at me.
I understood what I needed to do, but I wouldn’t have minded a, “Hey, how ya doin’?” or something.
I was exhausted by the time I got to the hotel, (around 8PM local time) so I just went straight to bed.
I woke up at 8:15 the next morning. I decided to forgo the wakeup call because I wanted the extra sleep. I feel it was the right call. I woke up and called a few numbers I found on Craigslist, and called the place that my new boss had told me to call. Only one guy answered, and that was just for him to tell me, “Sorry, we already rented the place we’d posted about yesterday. Let me call you back to talk about some of the other places we’ve got, though. I’ll call you in an hour, okay?”
I never got that call back. But I went driving around, and discovered the hospital. It is a really cool looking building.
It reminds me of a Weighted Companion Cube from Portal.
The area itself is quite gorgeous. I didn’t get any pictures of the area, but I really, really liked that it didn’t feel like New York City. The Island is pretty nice. There are little veggie stands sprinkled around the island, and there is a lot of vegetation. I was shocked at how many trees there are. (Tons, lots and lots of trees.) A few of the roads felt like Forsyth, where I lived as a child. Lots of trees, with little strips of town here and there. Rockaway Beach is like that. It felt charming, and small-town feeling.
In fact, most of the island feels like that, especially Sayville, where I snagged an apartment. (Subject to me actually accepting it, I need to swing by there and ask a few more questions after I see another place tomorrow.) The place is a little expensive for what I wanted, (a 1 bedroom place at 800sqft without Electricity or cable included) but I like the area. It’s close to a beach, the community is pretty well put together, and I will live next door to a decent pizza place. (I know it’s decent because that’s where I snagged lunch today.)
I got my paperwork finished for Stony Brook Medicine, too, but that wasn’t a big deal. Tomorrow, I get another PPD test done, and then I should be fine to work on Thursday. You can really tell the locals apart from the people who are in from out of town, though. Not just by accent, but by mannerisms.
And as I write this, Jerry Seinfeld is talking about bad communication in New York. I’m ridiculously amused by this.
So this was my first two days in Long Island. I think I’ll like it here, but it’ll require some getting used to. Still, not as big of a culture shock. Gas is only a little more expensive, food is roughly the same price, although handled differently.