Since I am still recovering from an annoying summer cold, there was even less bounce in my saggy bungee than usual when the alarm rang at 7:30 Thursday morning. I hit the snooze button repeatedly, then hit the dismiss snooze button and the next thing I knew it was 8:05 and I was rocketing out of bed as if the final shuttle launch was taking place in my modest abode. The shower felt so good, I dawdled and did not make it out the door until 8:45. Therefore, making it into my Tribeca office at nine from my Upper West Side starting point was looking less and less likely.
Most mornings I do run late, but I usually manage to squeeze onto an express subway train traveling downtown and make the connection to a waiting local train at 14th Street. The local delivers me to my destination so I often arrive close to, if not miraculously on time. Many times I enter with colleagues so when I am actually late, arriving in the company of equally disgruntled and underpaid co-workers provides me with safety-in-being-late numbers. It’s as if we’re each other’s human shields.
This morning was looking just like one where I would probably make my near-perfect train connections when suddenly I suffered whiplash for I experienced an extreme A-list level distraction. What prompted me to slam the brakes on my Jack Purcell badminton sneakers? A major sighting traveling down West End Avenue … Insert cliché drum roll here.
The Google Street View car!
Me (thinking): To hell with being late, I have to take a photograph!
I might never have another opportunity to photograph the car that photographs the street views for Google Maps. Right now, it’s traveling the streets of Gotham City to update images. It was stopped at a red light on the northeast corner of West End Avenue and 76th Street as I was quickly trying to pull my camera out of its case in my satchel. If I was not feeling ill, and the humidity had not been so oppressive, I would have hightailed down the block for a better shot. My nose was running, the clock was ticking, and I feared the light would change before I could hotfoot closer to it. What if I dropped dead of a massive coronary with snot all over my face running for that better shot? Hey, I’m 364 in dog years, not quite the sprinter I used to be, and I’ve been feeling like crap these past few days. I zoomed my little Canon PowerShot’s lens as far as possible and took this shot:
Due to my digital snapshot folly, I did miss the express train just as it was pulling out of the station. Instead of waiting on the steamy subway platform for the next express, I caught an arriving local train that had seats – always an indication that there would be plenty of train traffic ahead guaranteeing a slower commute. And it was a much more sluggish ride, but I didn’t care. I was elated that I got the shot and half considered sharing it with my seatmates, but decided that would be too transparently crackpot.
For more about the Google Street View car, Google Street View car expert or stalker (depending on what you thought of him in high school), Corey Kilgannon, wrote a wonderful New York Times City Room blog about it last month – complete with video. No one knows that car like him.