Friday, November 21, 2014

Ports authority.

Was passing through the wonderful Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan the other day---really, if you like brown, you must come see it---and noticed a new addition to the decor:

Yep, a stand-up recharging station for your various electronic devices.

At first I thought this was a stupendous idea. Then it got downgraded to a merely good idea the more I thought about it. It's a little strange, which is like everything else in the PABT. My thoughts went like this:

Like most places built before 2010, the PABT only has whatever electrical outlets are needed for its maintenance staff. Now that everyone has some kind of rechargable phone and/or tablet, people are often seen in public buildings sitting on the floor like bums next to an electrical outlet that for decades was only used to power a vacuum cleaner and a floor buffer. People in nice business suits are sitting on newspapers so they can be by their phone (which only has a short power cord) while it's charging. Now that the weather is cold, the bums are moving back in, and there may be fights over floor space.

In walks the dedicated recharging station! Or rather, in walk the electricians to install it. It's a nice gesture for the customers; you're not paying for the electricity, at least not directly. I guess it does cut down on the reasons to punch someone, so it's worth it on that score.

On this recharging station you'll note the plugs are way up there, so you can't lay your device on the floor while it is charging, just on the little table. You'll have to stand. It's too small for a lot of leaning. There's a foot rail, which is a bit helpful, but no seating. If there were seats they would have a bum in them.

The problem is that most devices take between half an hour and for-freaking-ever to get fully charged, so this will have to be a fast stop. I envision the guy whose phone has croaked; he needs to keep the thing juiced up just long enough to call or text home to let them know his bus is delayed (again). For him this is a straight-up lifesaver.

For those whose bus is not leaving for half an hour, this is an annoying place to stand while you wait.

There's still a crummy bar or two in the PABT. While on your visit to see the highlights of the world's biggest and busiest bus station, stop in a crummy bar and ask the bartender if you can use an electrical outlet while you sip your dry martini. That might work out better, although you might miss your bus.

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