Today I went on an errand for my boss.
All I had to do was go to the Brazilian Consulate, downtown, and get a visa for my boss’s upcoming trip to Brazil.
Little did I know that it would turn out to 4 hours of running around New York City feeling like I had been given the Quest to find the Holy Grail.
It all started when I agreed to volunteer for the New Music Seminar taking place in Manhattan’s Webster Hall. All the interns at my work were asked to volunteer at least two shifts during the seminar. I was scheduled today (Monday, June 18) from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
I know what you’re thinking… working a twelve hour day as a VOLUNTEER = no pay. Yes… you’re correct.
However, the badges for NMS are HUNDREDS of dollars, and volunteering long hours is a small price to pay to hear industry executives speak on music business panels.
So back to how I came to have the most ridiculous journey ever in life…
My boss wanted me to run an errand for her today, but I realized that I was double booked between getting her visa and working NMS. So… I got my shift at NMS switched from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and instead was set to work 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Why is this a problem, you ask?
Well if I WERE scheduled to work at 6 a.m., there would be no question whether I would be at Webster Hall when my boss arrived. BUT since my shift was switched last minute, I realized I had no idea when I should meet her at the venue to pick up her appropriate papers to get her visa.
I texted my boss yesterday (Sunday), asking to confirm the time I should arrive the next morning. Little did I know, the Apple iPhone would fail us. My boss DID send me a text… but for some reason, it did not arrive until the next morning.
I remember one of my co-workers saying something about getting to NMS around 9:30, so after not hearing back from my boss, I woke up at 8:15, planning to get on the 9 a.m. A train downtown.
I sent one more text to my boss, to confirm that I was going to pick up her papers, and I got back her reply from the night before, telling me to be there by 8:30 a.m., as well as a text saying, “I send you this information last night!”
FUCK. A. DUCK.
All I could think was, “Holy shit! This is my third week of work, and I’m already pissing off the boss!” I knew it would take me FOREVER to get all the way from West 170th street all the way down to East 11th, so I RAN out the door and hailed the first cab I could find.
I felt like I was in the movies when I told the driver, “I NEED TO GET TO WEBSTER HALL ASAP!” I was so flustered and could only IMAGINE how bad New York traffic would be on a Monday at 8:30 a.m. My cab driver was incredibly nice and told me he would do my best to get me there in 20-15 minutes.
THEN I STARTED TO FEAR FOR MY DAMN LIFE!!!!
This cab driver must have almost gotten into about ten different accidents, not to mention almost run over 3 people and 6 bikers. I was trying not to let myself have a panic attack in the back seat of this cab, but it was becoming quite difficult, especially as time began to tick by.
Was I going to be Andy from Devil Wears Prada!?!?! Not that I would EVER compare my boss to the Devil, who wears Prada, because she is incredibly sweet and a wonderful mentor, but I felt SO MUCH PRESSURE to get there in time! I would HATE to let my boss down on the third week of my internship!
I finally arrived after several brushes with death, only to find that it wasn’t absolutely imperative that I arrive ASAP. I could have very well taken the time to grab the A train and been just fine. We both discovered the miscommunication with the faulty text and she was not mad at all.
WHEW! I may have spent a lot of money on a taxi, but at least I still remained in my boss’s good graces!
We headed to the bank so she could take out the money for the visa and I was on my way to what I THOUGHT was the Brazilian Consulate. My boss said she was told it was on 49th street, so I Googled it, and sure enough an address popped up for 241 E. 49th as a Consulate.
At this point I was so exhausted with my cab ride of horror, that I stopped to get the LARGEST iced coffee I could get my hands on at Starbucks.
Riding the 6 uptown was a piece of cake. I got off at 50th and used Google maps to find my address. When I got there, I recognized the address, noticed that all the signs were in Portuguese, and everyone was speaking Portuguese. I thought to myself, “I must be in the right place! People in Brazil speak Portuguese! Here I am!”
After about ten minutes waiting in a line where literally NO ONE was speaking English, I noticed a map on the wall. That map was NOT of Brazil… it was of Peru.
I asked someone in the line, and they told me in broken English, that I was in the wrong place. When I asked him where I could find the Brazilian Consulate, he shrugged his shoulders.
When I Googled again, I found the OFFICIAL site of the Brazilian Consulate, and it was NOT on 49th, it was on 6th Avenue. When I looked at the nearest Subway, it seemed like it would be faster for me to walk across town.
Walking from the Peru to Brazil took me about 25 minutes (ha ha ha!) But it also entailed walking through an huge touristy area near Rockefeller Center. I had to push through a bunch of annoying, non-New Yorkers, as they took pictures of buildings while holding up the peace sign. Seriously tourists!?!? So unoriginal. What are you, 13-year-old emo girls???
When I got past the pack of blithering idiots with fanny packs and those camel-backpacks, I made it to my destination. Going through security included showing my ID, getting my picture taken before I had enough time to smile, and printing out a dorky card telling everyone I was a “Visitor.” They might as well print out a card saying, “Hi! I’m Shannon Allen and I’m a loser visitor with a loser name tag! I’m not actually successful enough to work in this building, I’m just ‘visiting!'”
21 floors on a crowded elevator later, I was in line behind an incredibly attractive male pilot. He began to flirt with me and I felt like the day was beginning to turn around! He asked me if I traveled often and I told him that I was just obtaining this visa for my boss. He asked me if I had the extra 20 dollars because apparently when you file for a visa that is not your own, it costs 20 more dollars.
YEP! My boss gave me 40 extra dollars just in case! My day really WAS picking up.
Then he dropped the bomb when he said, “I hope you remembered to get your money order, because they won’t accept cash or credit.”
Are you FUCKING kidding me!?!?!
After ALL this I have to get a FUCKING MONEY ORDER!!!!! And it couldn’t just be ANY money order, it had to be an official US Postal Service money order.
The closest USPS is in 30 Rock.
By the time I got to 30 Rock I was both exhausted and sweaty. My mascara and eye liner were melting, and my feet were starting to feel like they were going to fall off with every step.
Then I had to deal with the raging bitches of the USPS. I was in the wrong line and this lady just NEEDED to scream at me until I almost turned around and went “Cleveland, Ohio” on her ass! Luckily, I got the money order and got out of there before the One-eyed-Shan-Monster made an appearance.
Two New York blocks and 21 flights up an elevator again, I felt like I had finally defeated this seemingly menial task. I was IN LINE! I had my Nook to keep me company and finally felt like I was catching a break reading a magazine and bathing in the air conditioning.
A man with a beautiful accent called me up to the counter after about 30 minutes of waiting in line. I gave him everything my boss had given me as well as the money order and he looked at me quizzically.
“Do you have the form, Miss?”
What form, miss??? Was I missing something after all this time?
I was then given a lecture (in an extremely condescending tone) about how I needed to have a specific form.
“Great!” I said, “Can you give me that form and I’ll fill it out with my boss’s information???”
Nope. The form could only be obtained online and needed to be signed and dated with my boss’s signature.
And then I walked back to 11th street.
at noon on a Monday…
with several hours left in the day to volunteer….
Signed: a Tired Lady
P.S. This was my path. One big circle. (A and D are the same point… which is why you can’t see the “A”)