Years ago when I was in college I visited my sister who was living in New York City.
We decided to go on a road trip a la “Thelma and Louise” style. My sister’s name is Angela so this was dubbed the “Angela and Louise” escape from New York.
Dad gave me a credit card for school and I had a feeling he was going to cut me off soon because graduation was quickly approaching. We decided to do one last splurge on Dad and go to Boston on our own.
Now, the main problem is that I only had a learner’s permit and my sister is a better driver than me, but not the best. We still wanted to leave Manhattan and go to bean town so our limitations did not stop us.
It was the late 1990s and renting a car was a simple process since rental companies were not very strict about age limits.
Both of us are not the best at reading maps so we somehow decided that we didn’t need one. Angela and I told each other we would use the street signs to lead us out of New York and bring us to Boston. This may not have been the smartest thing for us since GPS did not exist and cell phones were a rarity.
Youth has a way of making you ignore the logical necessities, like maps, but we were ready for our adventure. Typically leaving Manhattan to get to the highway should have taken just a few minutes, but after an hour of driving from Midtown Manhattan we found ourselves in a very sketchy part of New York City.
In the 1990s New York was a very different city than it is today. Gentrification was still a rarity so there were many neighborhoods that you would avoid, like Alphabet City, the Bronx, Harlem, parts of Brooklyn, etc. In other words you would avoid many burroughs for fear of being mugged and losing your life. Today New York is one of the safest cities in the US and you can visit so many of its rich and wonderful neighborhoods.
Our gas tank was running low and we needed directions so we decided to stop at the only station we saw, even if it looked very shady with a lot of people loitering around. Since Angela was filling the tanks I had the duty of getting the directions from the gas station owners. As I approached the bullet proof glass in their kiosk they said that we were in Spanish Harlem and the cashier gave me the directions and gave the kindly advice of “locking the doors and getting back on the highway before we got into any trouble.”
We heeded the attendant’s advice and zoomed out of the station speedily when we got our tanks filled. Once we got directions finding the road to the highway was fairly easy and we were excited to get on with our journey.
After about 2 hours of driving we thought we were home free, but suddenly we heard sirens behind us. We thought that there was a car accident or someone must have been caught speeding. Angela and I looked at each other and thanked God that we were okay.
Suddenly we heard loud speakers behind us saying, “Are you deaf? Go to the side of the road.”
We realized that the policeman had his sirens on for us. Since this was the very first time we ever got stopped by the law we did not know what to do. Angela started moving the car to the left side of the road (the fast lane) where she was hoping to do as the cop said and stop.
The police officer yelled out in his loud speaker, “Stop, are you guys crazy? You will get someone killed. Don’t stop at the left side of the lane, you stop at the right side of the road.”
We looked at each other and we were scared because we were new to being disciplined by the police. Angela slowly brought the car to the right lane and she parked the car. The police officer parked his car behind us and on his loud speaker said, “Stay in the car and pull out your license and registration.”
Angela and I were in shock, and I think both of us wanted to cry, but we kept our composure. We were hoping that we did not break any serious laws.
Angela went through her bag to get her license and the rental car agreement. I was just silent, but I started to get worried when I looked at her and she turned pale and still kept on rummaging through her bag.
Suddenly the police officer knocked on our window. He asked my sister, “Mam, do you know why you were stopped?”
Angela rolled the window down and said, “Officer, I don’t know. Was I driving too fast? I really was trying to drive slowly and safely.”
The officer said, “I stopped you because you were driving too slow on the fast lane. Accidents can happen that way. Now license and registration.”
Angela gave him the rental car agreement. The cop asked where the drivers license was and my sister said, “Officer, I looked everywhere, I can’t find it. I don’t know where it could be. My sister has a learners permit. We were just trying to get to Boston for a little vacation.”
The officer looked at us grimly and told us to wait in our car while he got something in his car. He left us stewing for about 10 minutes. Angela and I started to bicker because we were scared about going to jail and finding the missing license. There were a few tears of fear on my part as well.
When the officer came back he said, “Today is your lucky day girls. I called the rental company and you forgot the license there. I’ll let you guys go for now. Drive to Boston and have a safe time. Next time don’t forget your license and drive faster.”
After the police let us go the rest of our sister bonding trip continued hitch free. “Angela and Louise’s” escape from New York was a true and fun success because we had a great time in Boston and we were able to get back to New York City without anymore misadventures.
Important lesson that Angela and I learned in this trip: Don’t drive too slowly on the highway and the left lane is only for fast cars.
I hope you have a wonderful day!
(P.S. Angela, If you are reading this please know that I miss you! I wish you lived closer to me!)