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Crosstown traffic

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 11/19/20

On a Sunday months before the pandemic, I took a bus from Monticello to New York City to spend some time with friends.

The ride was uneventful except for the guy seated behind me spending the …

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Crosstown traffic


On a Sunday months before the pandemic, I took a bus from Monticello to New York City to spend some time with friends.

The ride was uneventful except for the guy seated behind me spending the ride smacking his lips on fried chicken and the college age girl across the aisle who spent most of the trip gabbing away on her cell phone about millennial music groups that had names that sounded like Cheesedip Fraggle and Harry's Doorknob.

Eventually we reached the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel that locals call the helix. The word helix comes from the Latin word “hel” which means “pothole filled” and “ix” which translates into “roads that twist and turn causing traffic mayhem.”

The adroit bus driver maneuvered us to the entrance to the tunnel by avoiding 75% of the potholes leaving the remaining 25% to make us shake, rattle and roll. For the history buffs, Shake, Rattle and Roll was a song made popular by Elvis Presley in 1956, the year members of Cheesedip Fraggle were just images of little curds in their parent's brains.

Slipping through the toll booth, we were just yards away from the entrance to the tunnel when it happened. A police cruiser rushed to a stop in front of us blocking every lane of traffic. Those of us who were aware of this assumed that there must have been an accident in the tunnel. But from the finger licking guy behind me, I heard him utter “United Nations.” Hearing that, the bus driver and I groaned in unison.

We were on the cusp of General Assembly week at the United Nations, where world leaders assemble to discuss issues like war, health, the environment, and which steakhouse is better Peter Lugers or The Old Homestead.

Then came the dreaded motorcade. With sirens blaring this 15 vehicle entourage entered the tunnel and 25 minutes later so did we.

The largest motorcade is for the President of The United States. For the current President, codename “The Big Cheeseburger” the motorcade can be twenty or thirty vehicles. To attend the United Nations conference on the issue of whether almond milk can be considered dairy, the motorcade meets Air Force One as soon as it touches down at Newark airport.

Newark is one of the major airports in the New York City area. Another airport is LaGuardia named after Fiorella LaGuardia, a former mayor of New York City. LaGuardia airport is known for having short runways that can create a problem for takeoffs and landings. So, it is perfect that the airport with the short runways was named after a man who was only 5'2” tall.

I personally think all this fanfare and display of limousines is ridiculous and unnecessary. During General Assembly week there are approximately 120 motorcades in Manhattan. For each one, streets and avenues are closed to vehicular traffic. The street closure occurs well in advance of the dignitary's cars allowing the police to clear the roads. It is a major inconvenience.

Here is my solution. Instead of the pomp and circumstance of these elaborate procession of vehicles, let the Under Secretary of Wheat from Lower Slobovia get into the backseat of a Honda Accord. No flashing lights, no police escort and no fanfare. If there must be a security detail, pack them into a FedEx truck that can tailgate the Honda like any other vehicle.

Of course, if the dignitaries really want to have a New York City travel experience they should grab a yellow cab or book an Uber. Both vehicles would blend in seamlessly in traffic without calling attention to the status of the passenger. Uber is a German word meaning “over, above or across.”

Those definitions will come in handy when the driver reaches “over” to the glove compartment to retrieve his onion and limburger cheese sandwich for lunch, accelerates 40 miles “above” the speed limit and drives “across” the intersection barely avoiding the pedestrians who had wrongly assumed they were safe walking through the designated motorcade crosswalk areas.

Hailing a yellow cab would result in a similar ride but in addition, the dignitary would have the experience of trying to communicate with the driver through 2 inches of plexiglass. The plexiglass is to protect the driver from being robbed and prevents any odors such as onions or limburger cheese from seeping into the back seat

In big cities like New York the Honda, Uber or yellow cab would blend right in without drawing attention to itself. Everybody wins. People can go about their daily routines and world dignitaries can go about their business. No fuss no muss, which by the way, is not a bad name for a millennial rock band.


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