Monday, December 14, 2009

New York With a Vengeance.

Since my rushed trip planning had left me with an obscenely (and unnecessarily) long layover in Newark airport, I decided I'd have to venture into New York, New York to somehow glean some enjoyment out of the sucky part of a trip to see the other participant in a long-distance relationship.

A few days before the end of the trip, as the ladyfriend was piloting her car through some heavy snowfall on the way home from Chicago, I decided to let her in on my ulterior motive for venturing into Manhattan.

"The first time I went to New York, I made an album on Bebo, and I called it: 'New York'".

"Makes sense."

"So when I went the second time, I made a second album on Bebo, and I called it: 'New York 2: New Yorker'"


She seemed more concerned with the slippery road than my clever Internet antics, so I decided to step up my pitch.

"So do you want to guess what the next album is going to be called?"

"Nope. No idea."

"It's going to be called..."- I paused for effect -"...New York With a Vengeance!"


"Because it's clever!"

"No - it's pretty stupid actually."

That was the day I learnt that making allusions to the Die Hard Quadrilogy in front of my girlfriend would only serve to amuse myself (not that it'll impact on the amount I do so).

Back to the story - after a painless train journey, I arrived at Penn Station in New York - the starting point of a previous (wider-eyed) trek around the big apple.

I decided to restrict my wandering around in the rain to 180 minutes, which would leave me 3 hours to return to the airport and get my flight (overcautious, I know), and since I wasn't feeling particularly ambitious about making it up to 112th Street for my Seinfeld pilgrimage, I figured I'd plod around the tourist hotspots and take some crappy pictures on my mobile phone to show that I'd been there.

On the way towards Times Square, I stopped to look in the odd electronics shop window at their dodgy wares:

It's the small differences - center, color, shuffel

Since it was still pissing rain by the time I got to Time Square, I decided to stop into Toys 'R' Us for a gawk.

Cool! There's Superman holding up a truck!

A dinosaur! Neat! Now what?

After a photoless trip over to Rockefeller Center in a half-assed attempt at finding the Nintendo Store, I wandered back towards Times Square, hoping to find a public restroom along the way.

On the walk over, I managed to pass a young, moderately attractive woman dressed as a toilet dancing outside a building without investigating further, so I decided that now was the time to launch a full inquiry.

Charmin, the purveyors of quality toilet paper and animated arse-wiping bears had a building taken over and filled with toilets for the purposes of staging day-long poopenannies. After negotiating your way past the dancing toilet into the main door, you're greeted by the door-lady who is dancing along to the Charmin theme-tune, then ushered onto the escalator ride, in which you're subjected to posters displaying playful puns on defecation, whilst trying not to dance along to the infectious piped in music yourself.

Once at the top of the escalator, we were funnelled along the (empty) queueing lane, passing the excitable staff who were asking things like "Who's excited to go poop today?".

Eventually I got to my own stall, which was quite the well-stocked lavatory - it had four types of Charmin toilet paper, quality paper towels, and an iPod that was blasting out the Offspring's Smash when I entered.

I flicked through most of the iPod's offerings of contemporary rock and pop songs - trying not to think about the amount of e coli that surely lay on the buttons - then I settling on Billie Jean as the song to relax my sphincter to.

"Right" - I psyched myself up - "let's get down to business." I removed my jacket and turned to the door, expecting to find a coak-hook (a much-appreciated staple of US restrooms), but found none - how could the Charmin Restroom engineers, when designing toilets to grant the greatest end-user experience, decide to include an iPod but not a coat-hook? I was going to give them quite the critique when they asked me about how I found the process..

What's wrong with this picture?

Once I had left the confines of the cubicle, I was invited to rate my level of satisfaction. Now was my chance! Give them hell, O'Sullivan! I was shown a touchscreen computer, and instructed to touch one of the cartoon bears on the screen. After realizing that none of the bears depicted were puzzling over where the coat-hook was, I sheepishly hit the cartwheeling bear and shuffled along. The game was rigged.

Dotted around the path leading to the exit were iMacs encouraging users to log onto Facebook & Twitter and discuss their experiences. Internet and toilet access without having to part with cash? I normally have to lie to get either most places I go. These Charmin guys are a progressive people.

Before leaving the building, I was quite troubled by the last room - essentially a studio with a glass door, labelled "Canfessional - Share how you enjoy the go". I can only imagine it's used as a perverse human aquarium for the enjoyment of sick voyeurs with fecal-fetishes, but it was sadly unused on the day I visited:

After leaving the Charmin restrooms on Times Square, I dawdled little before getting back for my train. All in all, it was a worthwhile sojourn into the city, but it was another saddening example of me venturing into a foreign city chock-full of culture and arts - only to spend my limited time checking out the local crappers.


Sean said...

There's something very wrong with the US. Very wrong indeed.

strange-young-man said...

Shit article.