A few years ago, I took my first trip to the Big Apple. I was on my own, and New York City was on my bucket list, so I was super excited about it.
So excited, in fact, that I planned that trip to a tee. From booking tickets to attractions in advance to doing Google walkthroughs of the city, I knew my way around NYC before I even got there.
Or so I thought.
After getting off my flight at JFK, I had to embark on a 3-train journey to my hotel on the Upper West Side. And that’s where the first challenge lay.
I had never in my life taken a train before. And the idea of navigating the New York subway system on my own was daunting. I toyed with the idea of just taking an Uber, but being on a budget, it wasn’t the smartest idea. So I put my big girl pants on, said a prayer to the solo travel gods, and got to it.
I found my first train without issue. I was able to track the journey on Google Maps with ease, so I knew I was headed in the right direction. Switching trains at the Jamaica Station was also pretty easy, and the train was VERY comfortable, so I started to loosen up and enjoy the fact that I finally made it to New York.
Then suddenly disaster struck. We went underground, I lost my GPS signal and I no longer knew where the f*ck I was.
You see, as a millennial, I am thoroughly dependent on my smartphone. If it doesn’t work, I don’t work. That’s why I pay exhorbitantly for cell phone roaming services AND buy a local SIM card as soon as I arrive in any new destination. That’s why, before hopping on the train from JFK, the very first thing on my list was, “find a phone store”. So imagine me going through all that just to end up here. I went into full-on panic mode.
We reach our final stop. I grab my bags and make my way off the train with the throng of daytime passengers, and proceeded to find an exit.
ButI have a nagging feeling in my mind. Am I where I’m supposed to be?
The notoriously difficult-to-comprehend voice over the train speakers announced that we’re in Penn Station. I see the sign on the wall that says Penn Station. The streets listed on the exit signs match the ones I remember seeing on the map when I planned the trip.
But my phone still said I’m in Queens. So what do I do?
I Google, “Is there a Penn Station in Queens?”
The search didn’t work. The Internet was still out. I figured being deep underground in a subway station had something to do with it. So I went out unto the street and restarted my phone, which recalibrated the data and GPS. Google Maps finally told me that I was exactly where I needed to be, and told me where to find my next train. I followed it precisely like the good little tech-slave I had become.
I’m not proud of this moment. It was definitely a low point for me. But trusting my broken phone over my functioning eyes and brain was definitely the most millennial thing I’ve ever done.