Saturday, March 20, 2010

The McGoldstein's Perfect Storm: The stroller that almost got away.

It might've been a gorgeous sunny day today, but let us not forget the vicious rainstorm that blew through the tri-state area last Saturday. Trees fell on houses. Floods. Car accidents. Fires. 26,000 people without electricity in Staten Island. There were thousands and thousands of dollars in damages. And we, the McGoldsteins, had lost our three-wheeled Citi Mini green stroller. 

It all started last Saturday morning. Our neighbors who have a curly-haired Bean, slightly older than our Bean, had called us up to have a playdate at our apartment. Being that all of us had been sick the past week, we said it wasn’t a good idea. But Brooke and I didn’t want to feel stranded either so she had a great idea. "Let's go to Chelsea Piers for the day." Sounded like a perfect plan. We could take the Bean for lunch, have a burger and a beer and then we could stroll her on over to the toddler gym. She loved it there.  She could climb all over the place, socialize, and jump into the rainbow-colored plastic ball pit.

Since we felt our sick-germs resided in our apartment, we told our neighbors to meet us there. Awesome! So we got ready, packed everything up and headed downstairs to hail a cab. Now, every New Yorker knows that it's nearly impossible to get a taxi on a rainy day. But as luck would have it, there was one of those minivan type yellow taxi's parked right in front of our building and the driver was walking back from his lunch from Curry in a Hurry. I asked if he was done with lunch. He nodded and the McGoldsteins boarded the yellow submarine. I placed our green three-wheeled stroller in the back of the cab, Brooke strapped herself in and held the Bean tight, and I buckled myself in behind the driver. Full speed ahead. It was really coming down. Broken umbrellas were blowing in the wind. People looked drenched. Running for cover. But we were dry. After about a 20-minute cruise across town, we arrived at the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex. And that's when the fun began.

The second we pulled in, the Bean threw up. Yuck. All over her jacket and jeans and Brooke's jacket and jeans, and all over the right side of the taxi. Good times. So Brooke grabbed the Bean and made a run for it to get her inside. I remained in the cab with the pink diaper bag to take care of paying the nice man, and to clean up the vomit. He said, "Don't worry about it." But I did the right thing and I gave him a good tip. I asked for a receipt for tax purposes and then, without an umbrella I ran to find Brooke and the Bean inside the sports complex. I was happy I found them dry just inside the doorway. But when I arrived on the scene of my wife and the Bean she said the words that would penetrate my soul: "Where's the stroller?" My face went pale, I felt sick, and I felt a jolt of adrenaline shoot through me. I tore ass and ran back into the eye of the Manhattan storm. 

As soon as I ran to where the taxi had dropped me off, I saw him in the distance. He was driving about 5 miles per hour, stopping at a few exit gates. It was a long shot, but I had to give it a shot. I darted like a goateed cheetah, screaming for him to stop—like my child was actually in the trunk. I ran and I ran and I ran, and I huffed and I puffed in my giant black combat boots with my pink diaper bag swinging in the wind. Every time I got close to him, about 30 feet or so behind him, I screamed at the top of my lungs, "Taxi! Stop! Stop! You got my stroller!" And when he started picking up speed, I screamed to the people who were on the sidewalk waiting under the awning. "Stop the taxi! Hey you, stop that cab! Tell him to wait.” But they just ignored me. Probably thought I was just some ordinary, everyday city psycho in black boots running with a pink diaper bag. We were in Chelsea, after all.

I kept running. I was dying. I was wheezing and I wanted to stop so badly, but I kept on keeping on. And then for a moment I thought I was going to actually make it. He stopped at a red light. Just twenty feet from heading onto the West Side Highway. So I ran like a thoroughbred, nearly killing myself to save the day. "TAXI! TAXI, STOP!” I yelled, and then the light turned green. Green! Green! No! I felt defeated. Like something died in me. And I collapsed to the ground. Okay, I didn't collapse, but I was defeated and drenched, and I could barely catch my breath. I thought for a moment that suppose my baby was in there. It was like one of those movies from the nineties. I fall. I raise my arms over my head. And I cry, “Nooooooooo!” But it wasn’t Bean, it was just a stroller. A $250 stroller. A pain in the ass to get a new one stroller. But I was determined to get it back.

I looked back and saw how far I had ran with that pink diaper bag. It was about a quarter mile or more. I wondered what Brooke might be thinking happened to me. I had been gone over a half-an-hour. So I started heading back. Fortunately, I had my taxi receipt so I could try and track down the cabbie. I started walking and dialing 311, and waiting and waiting and getting more soaked on my underwater journey back to my family, who had their own vomit drama they had been dealing with. I eventually spoke to a human on the phone about my stroller. I gave them the medallion number and all the details and that was that. They told me they’d call me if it came back. If? I eventually met up with Brooke and the Bean. And as the rain drops drizzled down my nose and neck, the first thing Brooke said to me was, "I thought you were dead. Why didn't you come back?" She told me she envisioned me getting hit by a car. Well I was all right. 

So there we stood, the McGoldsteins, drenched, vomity and hungry. What the hell were we going to do? Being that both Bean and Brooke didn’t have clean clothes, going home made the most sense. On the other hand, putting Bean back in a cab, with no lunch, was just crazytalk. So they cleaned up as best as they could and we headed to our destination: Chelsea Brewery. It was where we were supposed to meet our friends for lunch. I made a joke to Brooke. "Maybe they had extra jeans for the Bean in the trunk of their car?" So I called them to see if they were in the parking lot yet. As luck would have it, they hadn't left their apartment, so they packed some jeans and even a clean coat for the Bean. 

Okay, the day wasn't completely ruined. When they showed up, we changed the Bean, had a round of adult beverages and walked across the pier toward the toddler gym. We were all psyched, especially Bean and their curly-haired Bean. After a 15-minute walk, we entered the big gym to get to the toddler gym. It was only 2:30 so we had a few hours left in the day. But when we approached the lady at the desk, we found out we didn't. The gym had closed 15 minutes before we had gotten there. Brooke and I felt so horrible. Not only did we screw up our day, but we sucked our neighbors into our downward, soggy spiral. Not to mention, they had to pay for parking. Like 30 bucks. Fortunately, our neighbors were nice, easy-going people and didn't care. We decided it was best to go home and have a play date at our apartment—the place we didn’t want them to come to earlier that morning because we didn’t want to get them sick.

While everybody was eating pizza I was googling how to get my stroller back, just in case the lady on the phone didn't know what she was doing. Sure enough, she didn't know what she was doing. I found her report online and she had the wrong info. So I filled out another report. I spent the next three days checking my claim online. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. I called different police precincts. I checked some stroller chop shops. Just kidding. We were losing hope. Our City Mini was nowhere to be found. I finally got a phone number from the Taxi and Limousine commission of the actual garage where the cab driver who had picked us up that day worked. I gave the dispatcher the medallion number of the cab and he located the driver. I was so excited. And when I spoke to the actual driver, I was even more excited. And when he told me he found the stroller I was so psyched. So I said “where is it?” And he said, "Essex house." And I said, "What the hell is it doing at Essex house?" He thought that's where he had picked us up. But once I reminded him that my daughter threw up all over his backseat during the urban hurricane, he remembered.  It all came back to him. We laughed. And my stroller search was over. But the kicker of it all was that when Brooke went to place the Bean in her long-lost stroller, she didn't want to go in. She cried and cried and cried. She cried her head off. The moral of this story is that the next time there's a torrential downpour in New York, stay home, get a bottle of wine, smoke weed if you want, and watch Elmo.

1 comment:

  1. at least you didn't forget the Bean in the trunk : )