Hedwig and the Angry Inch and a Very Unfortunate Bus Trip

2014-04-26 18.41.06Whenever we go to New York City to visit my sister-in-law and her family I drag my husband to some sort of Broadway show, but occasionally I will also take a day trip up to see a show with friends. With it being about a 3 and half hour trip from my house assuming traffic is good going up and back in a day does generally make for a long day but is doable so that we don’t have to pay the expense of a New York hotel room, which would definitely mean we wouldn’t wind up going up like we do.

As soon as we heard that Neil Patrick Harris was going to be starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway after he finished with How I Met Your Mother, my friends Jenny, Sarah, and I decided we were definitely going to go up for the show. I bought us tickets in the AmEx presale as soon as they were available and we had been looking forward to it in the 6 months ever since. Normally we would go up for a matinee leaving early in the morning, grabbing lunch, seeing the show, eating an early dinner and then heading home. There are no Saturday matinee performances of this show though. Instead they are doing a show at 7 and a show at 10 on Saturday nights, so we decided to go up around lunch time, get to New York in time to have dinner, then see the show, and then come home on the late side.

Rather than just go up and pick a random restaurant to eat at for dinner I put my Twitter connections to work for me and asked a couple of people I follow on Twitter who are quite familiar with the area where was good to eat around the Belasco Theatre, where the show is. There seemed to be some consensus around a restaurant called HB Burger, which mostly has various forms of burgers/sandwiches plus a few other entrees on the menu. They also have a good selection of beverages ranging from the Heartland Brewery beers, which they are connected to, milkshakes both alcoholic and non, and homemade sodas, plus a bunch of other things. I probably would have taken the suggestion anyway, but looking at the drink menu online was what sold it for me. Jenny, Sarah, and I were all very pleased with both our food and drinks but less so with our waitress who disappeared and literally never came back after serving us our food. After waiting almost 45 minutes, which fine because we had time to kill before the show which was only a block away, we did in fact need to pay our bill and leave. We eventually got a bus boy to get it for us, and made change at the bar so we could pay in cash and just leave it on the table. I never understand when that happens. You would think that someone who is making most of their money on tips would a. want to get a good tip from you, and b. turn over the table. There were plenty of people waiting to be seated by the time we left, and we would have happily left our table for them earlier if only our waitress had brought us our check at any point.

As for the show itself I really liked it and though Neil Patrick Harris was great in the role. I had seen the movie version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch a long time ago, but so long ago that I remembered very little about it. I never saw the original off-Broadway version, so I don’t know what might have changed other than obviously the more timely references. I hadn’t really read anything about the most recent production either as I prefer to not read reviews of shows I know I’m going to see because I don’t like to be influenced one way or the other before seeing it. Thus I didn’t really realize that the show is designed essentially as a monologue from the person playing Hedwig, in this case Neil Patrick Harris, through story and song. There is a 4 person band on stage as well as someone playing the character of Yitzhak, but s/he really doesn’t have much to do throughout most of the show. I don’t really feel like trying to explain the plot of the show, so if you aren’t familiar and you care let me refer you to the synopsis on Wikipedia.

The show is funny and dramatic and the music is good with a nice mix of ballads and more rock songs. Neil Patrick Harris was impressive in the role. He does a lot of running around and dancing on the stage in very high heeled boots. I can’t believe he was going to turn around and do it all over again right after we left.

And then there was our unfortunate bus ride home. We were already scheduled to get back to the northern suburbs of Baltimore a little after 1 am, which meant by the time I drove the half hour to my house in the city it was going to be almost 2 before I got home. That is way past my bedtime, so I already wasn’t looking forward to it. If only I had gotten home at that point I would have been very happy in retrospect. Instead what actually happened was our bus driver pulled over at the Clara Barton rest stop on the New Jersey turnpike, which is the last stop before you hit the Delaware Memorial Bridge in about 5 miles. That’s just a little over an hour from the bus stop so I was actually thinking oh good it won’t be too much longer before we’re back. Ha. ha. Our driver pulled over and went to the bathroom on the bus, but then when we went to leave it was obvious that something with the bus was not right. When he first started it up again something seemed like it was weird, but then it seemed ok that us until he was pulling onto the entrance ramp and trying to pick up speed. Then the bus just started groaning and obviously wouldn’t go any faster than a crawl. He pulled over to the side of the ramp and called Megabus headquarters to tell them about the problem, then informed us that there appeared to be a transmission problem and they were going to send a replacement bus but it would be about 2 hours before it got there. Because the bus wasn’t completely dead and there wasn’t really any traffic on the ramp at that time of night he slowly backed us up back into the parking lot. Then for reasons I cannot explain he then proceeded to see if he could get the bus to work again not by testing it out inside the parking lot, but once again trying to drive out the entrance ramp where we promptly had to stop at the exact same spot about halfway up the ramp. At that point he opened the door and told us we could get off the bus and go to the rest stop if we wanted. My friend Jenny yelled at him to try and back us into the parking lot again instead of making us all unsafely hike along the side of the ramp. He did, and then we got off the bus. Bizarrely only maybe 1/4 of the people actually chose to get off the bus and go wait inside the rest stop. I have no idea why they would want to stay on a stuffy, cramped bus when they could be sitting inside with real restrooms, food, and room to stretch. To each their own I guess. At least the people who came inside were fun and we had a good time with each other while waiting. We heard about 2 hours after we had been waiting there that a couple who had stayed on the bus got into a domestic dispute and started hitting each other and slamming each others heads into the bus wall. I’m not sorry I missed that. Our replacement bus finally showed up after about 2 and half hours and we made it back to the bus stop around 4am and I made it fully home at 4:30. Needless to say I’ve spent Sunday walking around in kind of a daze.

I’ve been less than impressed with Megabus through the whole situation. Other than an autotriggered email they sent out after the breakdown was reported no one apologized to us. Not our old driver or our new driver. The driver of our original bus was very bad about providing us with any information, and as of yet I have not heard anything about Megabus refunding us money for this trip or providing us vouchers for future travel funds. I imagine they’ll give us some sort of compensation if we complain, which we will, but really we shouldn’t have to fight for it. They should acknowledge we had a crappy experience on their service and attempt to make it right somehow. From where I live in the city I have the choice of taking both Bolt or Megabus and you can bet it will be a long time if ever before I consider choosing Megabus over Bolt again.

Because I like to look on the bright side of things here on this blog here are all the good things related to the generally crappy bus breakdown.

1. The breakdown happened at a rest stop so we were able to get off the bus instead of having to sit on the side of the road or worse yet on the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

2. I was with good friends who were also able to stay positive through experience. I told them I was glad this happened this with with them as opposed to last week when my husband was with me coming back from New York. I don’t think he would have had such a great attitude.

3. All the other people we were hanging out with inside the rest stop were fun people who also were trying to make the best of things. We actually did a lot of laughing during our wait.

4. The breakdown happened on the way home from New York instead of on our way up. It really would have sucked if we missed seeing the show we were going up for and had spent hundreds of dollars on because our bus broke down.

5. Unlike Jenny and Sarah I don’t have small children to take care of so I could sleep in and sit in a daze in peace.

All in all though as Jenny said when we were parting ways last night, even though it rained on us in New York, our waitress forgot about us, and our bus broke down I still had a really good time.

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