Another NYC challenge- AN ARTSY JOURNEY # 25
The cold metal shell of the Jacob Javits Convention Center hoovered around Pam and me.
“There must be a hardware store somewhere in this big city of New York,” Pam said, staring at the jumble of art display rods in need of bolts and washers. “We’ll set the display bin aside until tomorrow and unpack the art for now.”
As we busied ourselves, a golf-cart-like vehicle pulled up to our trade show booth. A man with the Javits Convention Center logo embroidered on his shirt hopped off. He hefted the long, narrow, broom-shaped easel box from the cart. As promised, the hotel delivery van had followed through and brought the cumbersome box to us.
We pried open the box and set the large art pieces on the easels. The paintings glowed under the rented lights. We positioned the rented, skirted table parallel to the show aisle. Once we got the display bin built, the bare cement floor would be hidden. One problem solved.Next, on the table, we arranged the first-class, limited edition brochures, business cards, and small table top art. I stepped back. It was a tiny booth among the other exhibits, but captivating. My skin prickled with excitement. In less than sixteen hours I would be showing alongside Art Expo in New York City.
We caught the shuttle bus back to the hotel at 7th Avenue and 53rd Street. The box-hero doorman was still on duty.
“Do you know where we might find a hardware store?” I asked.
He let loose a rumbling laugh. “You’re standing in the middle of Noo York the entertainment district,” he bellowed in his eastern accent.
I felt like a hick from the sticks.
“I can point you to a bodega,” he added with his smooth laugh. It was true; the street was lined with delis.
Pam pushed on, though, thrusting the drawing I sketched with the measurements of the display rack into his gloved palm.
He held up one finger indicating for us to wait a moment. He dashed inside and in less than a minute he returned with an even bigger smile.
“I’ve got you covered,” he said as he hailed us a cab, giving the driver directions.
We scurried inside the bright yellow car and were off. After a series of jerky starts and stops in heavy horn-honking traffic, the cab came to a halt, and we bailed out in front of a family-owned hardware shop. Inside it was as narrow as a bowling lane. Floor to ceiling shelves banked each side.
A short man sauntered up. He had a slight hitch in his step.
“What can I do ya for?” he asked.
Pam showed him the drawing.
He mounted a ladder on rollers that hooked over a metal track near the ceiling. He put a foot on the second rung and gave it a hefty push. He was halfway down the aisle when he dragged a foot on the floor, and came to a stop. He hiked up to the top rung of the ladder, reached in a small cardboard box and fetched a handful of parts. He rode back.
“This should do ya,” he said.
I stood amazed. Every nook and cranny of this hardware store was brimful. The high-cost of real estate in NYC made it an expensive place to do business, but the efficiency of this shop was impressive.
By now, the Javits center was closed, but if we arrived early there was time in the morning to complete the display bin set-up before the show debuted.
I looked at Pam, “Should we do it?” I asked.
We flagged down a cab. “Take us to Time Square!”
Every afternoon at three o’clock, a ticket booth, on Seventh Avenue in Times Square, sells half priced theater seats for same-night performances. Top shows are sold our weeks in advance, but smaller theaters sometimes have single seats left. If you’re willing to wait in line, you can grab an unsold seat.
By the time we arrived it was after five, so the ticket line had thinned and the rain had stopped. Pam rapped on the glass ticket window and pointed to one of the longest running musicals on Broadway – Fiddler on the Roof.
He grumbled at our plea. Pam rapped again and stood firm. We got tickets!
That night we huddled into our separate seats. I was enthralled with it all – the ornate architecture of the theater, the hum from the orchestra pit, the ripples of the velvety curtain.
Then the stage went dark, and I was mesmerized by the smooth, mellow voices for hours. It was a great way to end a long, difficult day – just what we needed because the next day would have other surprises to endure.