The NBC Web site described the Today Show window as being at the corner of 49th and Rockefeller Plaza. So I told the driver “49th and Sixth” being the closet street corner I could see on my AAA map. He asked if 48th was OK and I said yes, figuring he knew where we were going. If he didn’t, he found out not too far into our short conversation. He was a retired NYPD officer, been driving a cab for 12 years. Would be picking up his mother and father later in the day and driving out to his brother’s on Long Island for Christmas Eve. He acknowledged that he was blessed to still have his parents at his age: 57.
He learned from us that we were from Florida, visiting relatives on Long Island, were coming in early to hold up a sign on the Today Show and perhaps give citrus to Al Roker. He first found out about me, and then asked “And the young lady, what does she do?” “I’m a student,” she said, surprising the driver who obviously did not see her when she got in the cab. “Oh, I thought you were older. Sorry.”
He pointed out a sculpture sent by firefighters in Idaho or Iowa, I can’t remember. It was a dark mass perched on a trailer against the curb. The driver explained “We don’t know where we’re putting it yet.”
It was raining when we got out of the cab. We walked briskly towards Rockefeller Plaza. Metal barricades lined off an area lit like a studio. In fact that’s what it was, the outside studio for the Today Show. Two cameras, several monitors, a dozen lighting stands, microphones scattered about. Everything wrapped in plastic to keep dry.
We took a minute to walk around. The tree and skating rink, Rockefeller Center towering over Prometheus, joined just the day before by the Olympic Flame, resting in New York over Christmas before continuing its journey to Salt Lake City. Mattie got a hot chocolate and I got a large coffee and we took our places at the next available spot along the barricades that outlined the outdoor studio.
It was 6:05.
[an essay in 13 parts from Pablo Notes, 2001]