The first week of quarantine, against everyone’s advice (this includes the Governor, Mayor, my wife, kids, friends and employees), I decided to go to the Suna Bros. office.
My normal morning commute is a 50-block bus ride, but I didn’t want to chance public transportation during this time. Looking out the window, I thought, “It’s a nice day. I’ll bike.” My own bike is in storage in our building. Very quickly, the logistics of retrieving it, checking the tires, and probably having to fill the tires with much-needed air soon discouraged that plan.
Ah ha! I suddenly had a great idea. It would be great to take a Citi Bike, which I had never used before. They seem to be all over the city, accenting the asphalt with a bright streak of electric blue.
I walked three blocks and found 3 bikes left. Armed with my credit card, I was a bit perplexed at first. How do I pay? I looked for something on the bike. Was this like ApplePay? It was not so evident.
It took me a while to figure out that I needed to go to the nearby kiosk to pay and get the number to unlock the bike. This entire process actually took more time than it did to ride to work!
When I got to 10 West 46th Street, I took the bike upstairs to the office. Even though the streets were all but empty, I thought it was safer keeping it in the hallway of our floor. When I left 5 hours later, I saw a message on my phone that the bike was rented for 30 minutes and I was being charged extra. Extra? I thought that there had to be a mistake.
After riding home and docking the bike, I called Citi Bike. There is no privacy anymore. They knew who I was from my cell phone number, which I had not listed when I rented the bike, and that it was my first rental. When I heard the lady laugh as she pulled up the charge, I knew it was not good news. $87.00 extra time! However, since it was my first time, she considerately waived the charge.
Later that evening, I told the story to my daughter Natalie, an avid Citi Bike user. She burst out into laughter. She then informed me that not only are Citi Bikes intended for commuting from point A to point B, but also that a rental was only meant to be a whopping 30 minutes, not 5 hours.
Boy, do I have a lot to learn about living in New York City.