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The Home Team / How to outsmart fate

Updated 5:20 pm, Thursday, January 10, 2013
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A lot of people know how to make it not rain. Just carry an umbrella. Duh.

But making a taxi appear out of thin air on a crowded New York City street corner? This is not something everyone can do. But I can. Here's how.

You've staked out your position on, say, the northeast corner of 34th and Park. There are also people hovering on the southeast corner, the southwest corner, and the northwest corner, all pretending not to notice each other, all presuming they were there first and that it's their intersection. You wait, and you wait, and you wait. You see lots of taxis that already have passengers ... but not a one with its "vacant" light on. You wait some more. You look at your watch. And then you head to the nearby subway entrance and start making your way down the stairs.

But here's the important part: Walking downstairs to the subway in itself is not enough to summon the empty taxi. No. First you have to really give up on ever seeing that taxi. You have to, in your heart of hearts, be resigned to taking the subway. Only then do you start down the stairs.

And that's when your taxi will appear. I guarantee it.

I stole a page out of my Manhattan-taxi-hailing playbook earlier this week right here in Westport -- for an entirely different purpose. I was well into my second week of the Winter Cold From Hell, and while I normally subscribe to the if-you-ignore-it-it'll-go-away school of treating colds, this one wasn't going anywhere. So on Monday I made my way into the waiting room of the walk-in clinic on the corner of the Post Road and the Sherwood Island Connector.

Full house. At least 12 warm bodies ahead of me. I said to the receptionist, hopefully but deep down, knowing better, "Do you think I'll get seen in less than an hour?" She just kind of snorted, as if to say, in your dreams.

So I went home, spent the afternoon and evening coughing and sniffling and sneezing. And Tuesday I came up with a new strategy.

I unplugged my laptop, put it in its padded sleeve, and packed it, along with my Verizon Hot Spot, into my briefcase. To this I added a file folder of notes for a blog post I meant to write. And another folder for a book outline I'd been working on.

I didn't stop there. I also packed a travel piece on Lapland I'd been meaning to read. And The New York Times. Finally I threw in the Michael Chabon book I was in the middle of, Telegraph Avenue, for good measure. My briefcase was bulging. I had enough work and reading with me to last an entire day.

Equipped with this arsenal, I drove over to the walk-in clinic, parked, and opened the door to the waiting room. There was only one person ahead of me -- and she was taken as I signed in. Before I could even read the "What to do, where to stay" sidebar of the Lapland article, I was shown into an examining room and seen by the nurse. And then, just one paragraph into the main article, the doc came in, checked me over, prescribed for me the antibiotic I was looking for, and sent me packing. I was in and out of there in less than 30 minutes -- all because I'd brought six hours of work with me and had convinced myself I was going to do it.

The only downside is I still haven't finished reading that piece on Lapland.

"The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website at http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/. To reach Hank, email him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.