One of the unique duties in my day job is managing the nominations my department submits for industry awards. It’s really challenging and often leaves me working all night to write, edit, and submit the best nominations I can by a tight deadline. It’s sort of like college all over again several times a year. I also follow up with any finalists, help coordinate travel, run as a go-between for the awards company and mine, write acceptance speeches, and then usually sit at home watching a live stream of the ceremony as we eat dinner, texting my manager the news as it goes. But sometimes, every once in a while, I get lucky. After my manager won two free tickets to the banquet and money for airfare less than two weeks beforehand (we had already booked everyone else attending), she asked if I’d like to go and have Eric tag along. Um, yes, please, thank you.
We only had one night in the city, so we flew in as early as we could and tried to maximize every minute while we were there. The hotel we booked for our finalists and representatives filled up, but I used HotelTonight (code JPENDERGRASS14 = $25 off) for the first time and found a good deal at the RIU Palace next door, practically on Times Square.
We worked on the taxi ride in (how NY of us) and had a couple hours to spare before we needed to get ready for the evening. We walked over to John’s Pizza for food, down to Times Square, and continued walking several more blocks until we found Grand Central Station. We walked through the main lobbies, looped back out, and hiked it back to our hotel.
Once we were all dressed up, we walked over to the Marriott Marquis on Times Square* for the awards ceremony. All the professional fun was had: I was able to meet up with my colleagues from all over the country, there was a cocktail hour, corny business jokes were made by the emcee, speeches were given, and pictures were taken. We won five awards and everyone seemed to have a nice time, so I was feeling good when we walked back to our hotel a few hours later to change clothes for the third time in one day. The city never sleeps, so we didn’t need to head to bed quite yet.
We walked back through Times Square, stopping by the famous Disney store, over to the Hard Rock Cafe for a drink, then down to the Empire State Building. I’ve visited it once during the day with my mom, but didn’t realize it was open at night and was excited to see the city all lit up. It was far less crowded than I experienced during the day and the views were so pretty. It was also just as windy as I remembered it being, so after a slow walk around the whole thing, we went back down the elevator and to Times Square for the light show at midnight. We had one last night cap at a hole in the wall called Jimmy’s Bar before calling it a night.
We woke up early the next morning to work a while before dropping off our bags at the front desk and out to find New York bagels somewhere. We couldn’t find our first choice, but eventually found another bagel shop with a line of locals out the door. The rest of the day was spent walking around from site to site: down Broadway, to Radio City Music Hall, and a nice long stroll through Central Park. On the way back down, we stopped at the old local P.J. Carney’s bar for a drink and to work for a few minutes.
We found Carnegie Hall, Midtown Comics, and a piano in Times Square. We both sat and played it for a minute, with a small applause of strangers after we were done haha! We found one last bar to grab a light lunch and work at before we were back at the hotel picking up our bags and getting into our taxi.
Our flight home was delayed seven times, so we ended up spending out last several hours in the city from the non-comfort of the Laguardia Airport. (Seriously, LGA is the worst.)
It was too short of a trip but so fun, and I feel really fortunate I was invited to see hard work pay off in person. I’m also unbelievably grateful that both Eric and I work the jobs we do so that we can make crazy trips like this happen. We’d do it again in a New York minute!