So, I trudge back up 34th Street away from the Javitz center. It was drizzling and warm. Before I had left Pier 38, the Manhattan towed car depot, I called the number for the Brooklyn Navy Yards to make sure I had the directions right. Of course the directions made no sense, and were hard to understand. I also had to go through about three key pad entries until I finally got to the subway directions "in English," which is not considered the default language at this particular moment in NYC.
I was about as far West as one could go in Manhattan, right near the Hudson River. If you've never been here, Manhattan is a strange, strange island in that it has virtually no density along the waterfront, completely opposite from virtually every other place in the world, where people clamor to live near the water. As such in the middle of the island when you get to the Hudson there are a few cruise ships, the Intrepid aircraft carrier museum, some empty, decrepit piers, the car depot, the Jacob Javits convention center and that's about it. There is no local subway stop, and few buses. So I had to schlep back to the subway, in the rain, to get to the "F" train line, to get to Brooklyn's Navy Yards before it closed at 8:00 p.m., or pay to have them store my car another night. Though it wasn't my fault, since they told me the wrong address to begin with, got it?
So I started walking, and quickly realized I had to take a pee, like majorly. I considered whipping it out on the deserted sidewalk, channeling shades of old New York where you could do that sort of thing--and a whole lot more, by the way-- in that part of the city, and no one would care. The old Wild Westside, back in the mid-90s and earlier, used to be notorious for trannie prostitutes, and non-trannie prostitutes, gay clubs and drug use. You know, the good old days. But that era's passed, and I quickly shelved the idea of peeing publicly. Another reason: I wasn't drunk.
So, I had to go. Walking up 34th Street I passed a McDonalds, and walked in. About five years ago I was driving back from upstate New York with my brother and we both had to go so we drove into a Burger King, I think, and used the bathroom without paying. I wasn't sure if we should do this, as the bathrooms are for customers only. But my brother scoffed.
"Have you eaten at a Burger King before?" he asked, rhetorically. Well, yeah, of course. Our hometown, Closter, N.J., had one, and I had gone there countless times by the end of high school. You see, he explained, you've already given them hundreds of dollars in business. They owe you some bathroom time. It's part of the deal.
"So, it's like a social contract?" I asked.
Exactly, he said. I had never thought of it that way. So pee we did, with no guilt. Now I used that mindset in the Mickey D's.
The workers inside seemed like they had been waiting for me to arrive.
"It's upstairs," they said before I could even get the words out.
I had expected them to ask me to buy something before using the facilities, but they really didn't care. And if they had asked me that I had a defense prepared in my mind, at least: do you REALLY feel so much loyalty to the McDonald's Corporation that you feel you need to act as security guards for their bathrooms? For, what, $6.50 an hour?
But they didn't need my William Kunstler-esque arguments about the men's restroom and my moral claim to use it. I guess that I didn't resemble a shabby drug-addled homeless guy was a major plus in my column.
So, use it I did, and then left the restaurant, only to see my bus pull away across the street. Now another one wouldn't come for, how long? I had no idea. I decided to wait it out. It was not my best decision ...