An Experiment


This is a piece written by my sister for her 11th grade English class. I helped edit.

I woke up, slipped into a pair of sleek Nike running shoes, and began a light jog towards the Stony Brook Train station. The train was scheduled to leave at 12 noon. The brisk, cold air gently pushed against my face as I approached the glowing automated ticket machine. I pulled out my parents’ credit card and swiped it into the machine’s credit card acceptor. “Do you want $18.50 to be charged to your card?” read the text on the brightly lit screen. I smudged my finger on the YES button, and out came a round trip train ticket. I then walked towards open doors of the humming, double-decker train. I went inside and took a seat, excited for the upcoming adventure in Manhattan. As I settled down, the train lurched to life, chugging its way west. Two hours later, the conductor bellowed in a throaty growl: “Last stop, Penn Station”. The digital watch on my wrist indicated the time was 2:07 P.M.

People of every imaginable shade of color swarmed around me as I took in the pleasant chaos of the busy streets surrounding Penn Station. English, Spanish, French, and a multitude of unrecognizable tongues filled the air. I raised my arm and a bright yellow taxi pulled over to the curb. I went in the cab, and told him the destination: The Pod Hotel at 230 E 51st Street. We waded through the gridlock traffic of midtown Manhattan and, finally, after 20 minutes, I had arrived at the hotel. The ride cost me a reasonable $12.

The Pod Hotel’s lobby was sparsely furnished, with an overall dingy appearance. I approached the Front Desk to check in. The clerk, a rotund man with a slightly unpleasant odor, flashed me a smile and said: “What can I do for you, miss?” I replied: “I have a reservation for tonight and tomorrow”. The man smiled again: “Are you with your parents? You look a little young to be traveling by your lonesome”. I tersely shot back: “I’m almost 17 years old. I can take care of myself. Can you please give me my room keys”. His smile shrunk in size a little, and he said in a still friendly tone: “Sure thing, doll.” That will be $238.50 in total. I gave him the cash in exact change and took my room keys from his chubby fingers.

I walked away from the desk and went to the elevators. I pressed the UP button and waited two minutes for the elevator to ding its way down to the lobby. I got in the elevator and selected the 12th floor. My room was 1221. I opened the door to the room and flopped down on the bed. “Ahh, what liberty, to be free from the parents for a weekend” I declared to the empty hotel room. I emptied the contents of my backpack and organized what clothes I would wear for the weekend. For today, I chose to wear a shirt with a large picture of our newly minted President, Barack Obama, on the front and back. I like Mr. Obama, he inspires me. I thought to myself: “As much as I’d like to take a nice nap, I have to explore the sprawling playground of Manhattan.” The only problem was that there were so many things to do! I decided to stroll around Central Park.

I walked to the Park and came upon an intriguing scene on the way. Two men of African-American descent were break dancing while catchy hip-hop boomed out of a nearby stereo. I motioned towards them to get their attention. They stopped, turned down the music, and asked me: “What you want, pretty girl?” I smiled and responded: “May I join you? I bet I can match what you can do”. The men broke out into laughter and said: “Let’s see what you got”. The music came back on and the two men moved aside to see what I could do. I jerked, swung and moved my body in a mesmerizing combination of impressive dance moves. A large crowd gathered to see the tantalizing movements I displayed. After about 7 minutes of intensive break dancing, I stopped. The crowd erupted in hoots, hollers, and applause. The original guys who were dancing looked at me with awe. “Wow, you sure can move, white girl. How did you learn to do that?” said the two men. I smiled, and said: “Magic”. I walked past them and onto my next destination: Food.

I was in the mood for Mexican food. On 51st street, sat El Centro Mexican Restaurant. It was 5:30 P.M. The hostess seated me, and put a menu on the table. I browsed through the extensive selection available and decided to get the spicy chicken enchiladas smothered in a brown Mole sauce. The waitress took my order and in a short 15 minutes out came the food. The enchiladas were great. The mole sauce had a deep, sweet flavor that left an odd, but not unpleasant, aftertaste in my mouth. I tried to order a Margarita to wash it all down, but the waitress said I had to be 21. Instead, I slurped some water and asked for the check. The bill came to $23, including tip. It was now 6:45 P.M. and I was thirsting for more adventure. I flagged down a cab and asked to go to Madison Square Garden.

I paid the cab $15 and walked to the ticket booth at MSG. I didn’t know who would be performing that night, but to my surprise, a band that I liked was playing: The Devil Wears Prada! Even better, the admission cost was only $23 for standing room seating. The Concert was to begin at 8 p.m. I found my “seating” section. The cavernous arena was filled to the gills with a young crowd of people aged about 14-21. As the clock ticked closer to 8 P.M. the crowd became louder and louder with anticipation. DONG! The time had come. The Devil Wears Prada burst out onto the stage. The crowd erupted into ear-splitting screams. Then the band began to play. The beautiful music reverberated throughout the Arena and I was, for as long as the concert lasted, transported to a place where only good emotions and thoughts exist. No worries passed through my mind. It was blissful.

The concert ended at 11 P.M. I was exhausted. $13 and 15 minutes later I was back at my Hotel. It was time to go to bed. I got into bed and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. I woke up to the bright sun shining through the window. It was 10 A.M. I wanted to get a lot of sightseeing in. I mapped out an itinerary. First stop: New York’s tallest structure, the Empire State Building. I wanted to experience the city as much as possible, so, unlike the day before, I decided to walk instead of take a taxi. After traipsing across Manhattan’s bustling streets and avenues for an hour, I stood at the base of the Empire State Building. I arched my neck back, looked up, and beheld the tower’s stunning height. I thought: “good thing I’m not afraid of heights”. I went through the mighty tower’s main entrance and inquired as to how I could get to the top floor. It cost $15 to take the elevator to the top. A long five minutes later, the elevator stopped and I got out onto the observation deck. The view was, simply put, awesome. I could see all of Manhattan. Dozens upon dozens of towers stood below me. Thousands of people and cars looked like a mini version of the real world. I thought: “I’m so high up right now I could probably parachute down”. I took in this view for about 30 minutes, and then went back down in a smelly, cramped elevator filled with tourists.

On a more somber note, I headed downtown to Ground Zero, the resting place of the former Twin Towers. It was 12:45 P.M. I was only 9 when the towers collapsed, but I remembered 9/11 vividly. Seeing the barren space where the towers had been brought back what I felt that tragic day: fear and anger. On 9/11, I did not fully understand what had happened, yet I still felt those emotions. Standing at Ground Zero, I thought: “how can humans do such horrible things to each other?” I couldn’t come up with an answer. It remained a mystery. I cried a little, and then walked away from Ground Zero.

I checked my watch; it was 2 p.m. My stomach growled. It was time to eat. I saw a Turkish Restaurant, and took a seat inside. I ordered a Gyro with some yogurt sauce for dipping. It was tasty and cheap; the bill came to $14. I asked the waiter: “Is there anything fun to do around here?” He answered: “well, over in Battery Park lots of people play soccer, ultimate Frisbee, and a bunch of other things. Or, you can go to the movies which are right around the corner”. I said: “Thanks, I think I’ll go to Battery Park. Have a good day”. After the draining experience of Ground Zero, I thought it best to do something with no thinking involved. It was now 3 P.M.

I walked to Battery Park and saw that, indeed, there were a couple games of Ultimate Frisbee going on. I asked a girl, who was playing: “Hey, mind if I join?. She said: “Sure, you can be on my team”. I ran, caught, and threw the Frisbee. We won all three games we played in. It was a good time. Drenched in sweat and probably not smelling so nice, I said my farewells to the people I played with. I got into a cab so I could go back to the Hotel and shower. The cabbie charged $17 for the ride.

I took a long, hot shower. I felt refreshed. I was ready to have more fun. I went to the lobby and asked the clerk: “do you know any good shows around here?” She replied: “Depends on what you like”. I went on: “I want to see something that will make me laugh”. “There are a lot of good comedy clubs by NYU”, she answered. I thanked her, entered a cab, and told the driver to go to NYU, where the comedy clubs are. I arrived, $15 dollars less and 20 minutes later, in a narrow street with many restaurants and hippie types walking around. I saw a place called the Comedy Cellar. It was 8:30 P.M. I paid the guy at the door $10, and walked downstairs into a low ceilinged, small room with tables and chairs cramped up against each other. A tiny stage sat in the front of the room.

The place got busy quickly and was packed by the time the show started at 9 P.M. I bought a pitcher of Diet Coke for $ 10 and drank it. The show began. The comedians told their jokes, and I could not stop laughing. It was very entertaining. It was a fitting end to a roller coaster of a day.

At 11 P.M., the comedy show ended and I had to get back to the Hotel. A $14 cab ride and I was back in my room, tired and satisfied. I dozed off while the T.V. was still on and woke up at 10 A.M. to some weatherman saying how today would be unusually warm for this time of year.

I got out of bed, checked out of my hotel room, and set off for the natural history museum. I heard good things about it. I told the cab driver to go to ______. I arrived at the Museum at 11 A.M., paid the driver $7, and bought a $15 entrance fee. The exhibits were pretty cool. All sorts of life-like animals, made to look like they were in their natural setting, stood within glass display cases. I saw other exhibits as well, like the elaborate models of our universe. I liked what I saw, but I was short on time. I had to get back home to Long Island that night. I left the museum a short hour later. I wanted to see the Bodies exhibit, near the southern most tip of the Island.

I arrived at the exhibit and bought a $25 ticket. The exhibit was gruesome, yet cool at the same time. The bodies on display were real dead bodies! All sorts of bodies in different shapes and sizes were scattered across the museum. After observing this for about half an hour, my stomach began to disagree with what I was seeing. It was making me sick. I left at 12 p.m. I thought I better get back to Long Island. I had school the next day. I hopped into a cab and went to Penn Station. Just as I was about to go underground, I stumbled upon a sad scene.

Outside the entrance to the train station, a young man sat on the ground. He was dressed in a dirty military uniform and only had one leg. He held eye contact with me and said: “please, can you help me? I am an Iraq War veteran and lost my leg in a roadside bombing. The government has left me with nothing” I instinctively reached into my pocket to see what cash I had. $700 remained. I gave it all to him and said: “Thank you for what you’ve done for us. You are a hero”. He lit up in a grin and said: “thank you, miss, thank you very much. I will always remember you”. He reached into his own pocket and gave me a military cap, signed by Colin Powell. “This is for you”, he said. I took it, mainly because I didn’t want to offend him. I had 30 minutes to kill, so I played dice with some friendly men on the platform. I then got onto the 1:30 p.m. train back to Stony Brook. I sat down and thought: “What a great weekend. I’ll never forget it.”


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