A few months back, M sold the above painting to his friend B in Florida. B sent payment promptly, along with a filled out FedEx form, directions to local FedEx places, money for a cab to/from said FedEx places, and some pictures of his recent vacations. What could be easier?
As the painting was discovered to be stored in a barn in PA, it took several weeks (about 6 I think?) to get it from the barn to NYC. And there it sat, up on M's record shelf, out of reach and getting dusty. Somehow he never got to it, and B's first polite "where is it?" voicemail went unanswered.
The second and more detailed "where is it?" voicemail left me guilt-feeling enough (the price of the painting having been long since spent) to start doing some nagging/prompting. Admittedly not my issue at all, but I felt guilty nonetheless, and honestly had never liked the painting and was tired of seeing it up on the shelf.
Last Friday night, M finally sat down and constructed a custom-fit box (made from a mattress-box salvaged from the neighbor's trash heap) and wrote/drew a note to put inside, signing it with his art signature. He never did sign the painting.* I put the FedEx slip in my backpack (we had no plastic thingie to attach it with) and made plans to drop it at the FedEx spot just below Central Park, as we were meeting my cousins there for a picnic Saturday noon. There are no FedEx drops near us other than the one that charges double the actual shipping cost down the street, and this avoided either a: the package sitting there collecting dust for another month, or b: me getting irritated and schlepping myself and the boy(s) to the closest office by bus and doing it myself.
Off we went, laden with Fynn in a backpack on Michael, me with a backpack of diapers/clothes/toys etc ... the requisite out-in-ny-for-a-day supplies, another bag of food in my hand, and the nicely packaged blank brown box of a painting. You see where this is going, don't you? Sigh.
We were running 45 min late, and had no way to communicate with the cousins we were meeting to tell them that we were still coming. Overshooting our stop by one stop, we realized it at the last minute and dashed off the train at 50th st on the E, doors closing behind us on the WTC-bound train. As I looked around to make sure we had everyone/everything I had the horrible realization that the brown box was nowhere to be seen.
The plain/unlabeled brown box. With the already-paid-for painting in it. Left leaning against the wall of the train, where I'd wedged it with my leg to keep it from falling over.
My first reaction was to shriek to M that "the BOX, THE BOX, IT'S STILL ON THE TRAIN!!!" and we both ran back to the train and started pounding on the doors and yelling for them to wait. Of course the conductor was nowhere to be seen, and in my panic I didn't stop to look for them but tried to (HA, as if ...) pry the doors apart. I caught the eye of one of the many people looking towards my window-pounding efforts and pantomimed "BOX, THIS BIG, OVER THERE" and pointed to where we'd been sitting. Then the train pulled out and my heart sank into my flip-flops. M ran a few steps after the retreating train and then we stopped and looked at each other.
Desperate to do SOMEthing I stupidly suggested running upstairs and hailing a cab to try to catch up to the train at the next station .... riiiight. Southbound 8th Avenue at noon on a Saturday, and the cab will go faster than the train? Never, not even sans-traffic. I got to the top level first as M had Fynn on his back and saw a lady in the ticket booth and panted to her what had happened. She told us to go back down and catch the next WTC bound train and tell the conductor what had happened, as they were the only ones who could communicate between trains. As I tore back towards the turnstiles she hollered after me thru her loudspeaker to not have a heart-attack as that wouldn't help anything. Thanks :)
We caught the next train, told the story, and the walkie-talkie game between trains began. Three stops later the word was that the train ahead of us would look for it until they got to the end of the line (World Trade Center, 8 or so stops ahead) and we could meet the train there to see if they'd found it.
At this point, rapidly heading away from the cousins in the park, and Douglas looking wide-eyed and a bit scared at our panic, we muttered a "please help us find it!" prayer and split up. I took the boys and all the bags and got off, heading up to catch a cab back up 8th ave to the park. M headed to the end of the line ... thank God we weren't riding the A train that runs the same tracks, with a final destination of Far Rockway!
M got there and found ... no box. He was famished and surfaced to find a hot-dog stand, hoping that someone on the train had picked it up. He didn't get far down the street when his cell phone rang. He answered to find a man from Chelsea on the line, asking him about a painting he'd found on the train and some frantic-looking people with two kids pounding on the doors. He saw what had happened, opened the box and found the letter (which I'd forgotten about), looked up M's name on the internet and found his website and phone numbers, and was tracking him down. Thank God for small miracles and kind ny-ers!
He retrieved it, sent it, and my stomach finally unclenched. We all met up here at the new Hecksher playground, which is the coolest one I've seen here yet .. we spent 2 hours, mostly playing in the water end.
It turned out to be a great day after all :)
*So he said, but I see in the pic from his website above that it was signed at some point? Dunno. what's up with that.