New York City is the greatest city in the world and the FDNY is the greatest fire department on the planet. Now that we have these facts established we can get to the story.
Early morning before the sun had showed itself to Washington D.C., Joe and I hopped on a Greyhound bus bound for that king of cities, New York. We were both firemen and paramedics for Washington D.C. but the FDNY was our dream fire department. We had decided to visit the city and fire houses. The year was 2005.
After sleeping in fits on the bus we arrived at the Port Authority of the Big Apple. Walking outside to the first lights of day the city impressed itself upon us. The streets were empty save a few women hanging around the corner. One turned away to show her jeans missing quite a bit of material, to the tune of her butt showing brighter than the morning sun. Welcome to beautiful New York. The next block we saw our beloved fire department working on a car crash. No fancy, expensive equipment that other less skillful departments use. Just basic hand tools, skill, and experience needed here.
Finding very little to do so early in the morning we made our way to Central Park where we quickly staked out a piece of grass and slept the sleep of the tired and free. Once the sun had risen high enough it woke us and we were off to see the city, after covering a good amount of the park. We only had two days so we walked with a purpose. We were double busy. Actually, we walked with a purpose to the subway and let it do most the work.
Our first stop was the Empire State Building. We walked down the avenues, passing Famous Original Rays pizza on the way and FDNY 14 Engine, also known as Sweet 14. If you are offended by that you need to take a good hard look at yourself. We got tired of walking so decided to take the subway to the Empire State building. Neither of us knew the city so we guessed it was on the tip of Manhatten. When we stopped and got above ground we realized our mistake. The building was the same size as when we went down to the subway, just reversed. Since we were penny pinching we decided to hoof it. After taking a picture of the Statue of Liberty we walked via the Ghostbusters fire house to the Empire State Building. Along the way we passed Famous Original Rays pizza, which seemed odd.
This expedition took us all day and come nightfall we ended up in the bunk room of the Engine 7 fire house. This was after three other houses turned us away because they didn’t have room. After a steak dinner at a nearby chop house we slept. Soundly for me but Joe was too excited. He stayed up and filmed the engine and ladder truck go out on a call.
Come morning we took the subway to Coney Island. Somehow we passed Famous Original Rays on the way to the subway entrance. I will tell you a secret of the New York Transit Authority. They love confusing tourists. They have express trains and local trains, but this wasn’t explained to us. So luck being what it is we ending up on the local all the way out to Coney Island, the last stop on the line. So we got to see every subway from start to finish of the two hour trip. Ah, I can still remember the 52nd street platform with fond memories(Not really). Coney Island is a fun and entertaining place in Summer. It brings out all sorts of people. Contrasted with Winter when it only brings out the mentally ill and is therefore entertaining, but not fun.
Finished touring Coney Island we rode the train back to the city for an Italian lunch in China Town. Don’t be silly, of course it was in Little Italy, but only after passing Famous Original Rays. But believe me when I say that we took the express this time. Two hours sitting in a rattling tin tube made me focus and decode the map, and by decode the map I mean a local noticed me staring at the wall map for twenty minutes with a blank expression on my face and took the time to explain the system to me. That man will always be my hero.
After a satisfying meal in Little Italy we returned to the beauty that is the Port Authority for our bus ride back home. Though it was twelve years ago that trip will always be imprinted in my memory. I have been back many times to visit my favorite city. Most recently was just a year ago with my wife. And we passed Famous Original Rays and had the best slices of pizza ever!