MetroCard dead drop?
September 14, 2011 9:31 AM   Subscribe

My wife has been in New York City this week, and bought an unlimited weekly MetroCard. She's leaving NY tonight, and I'm arriving about 2 hours after she leaves (i.e. we won't be able to meet). Is there some clever way she can hand the card off to me?

It's not a big deal but I thought it might be a fun adventure to see if we can work this out. Here are the details:

- I am boarding a BoltBus from Philly to NY at 9PM, arriving at 11PM near Penn Station.
- She is boarding a BoltBus in the opposite direction at the same time, leaving NY Penn Station at 9PM and arriving in Philly at 11PM.
- The bus generally doesn't stop along the route.
- She will be going straight from upper Manhattan (Inwood) to the bus and can't really go out of the way to leave the card somewhere like a friend's house; it would have to be somewhere in the general vicinity of Penn Station.

Any clever ideas? Things we thought of:

- Something along the lines of "tape the MetroCard under the third flowerpot outside the NE entrance to Penn Station" might work, but we think that over the course of 2 hours someone's probably likely to find it.
- She could perhaps leave it at a Kinko's or a deli nearby, but it's not like we're regulars at any of these places, so they may not be willing to hold an envelope for us.
- I'm not staying at a hotel, so there's no front desk we can leave it at.
- Wherever she leaves it has to be accessible until midnight tonight so I can retrieve the card.

Entertaining suggestions also entertained! I may not have time to reply this afternoon but will be reading the thread and will check in tomorrow. Thanks!
posted by thumpasor to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
If it's not a big deal, why not just go for the flowerpot routine? I really doubt that over the course of 2 hrs some person will come along looking under all the flowerpots for hidden treasure. Especially in the super creepy weird downstairs bus area. No one, including panhandlers, hangs out down there longer than necessary.
posted by coupdefoudre at 9:35 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bus/train locker? But then the problem becomes the key...

How about finding a unisex bathroom and putting it under the wastebin?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 9:40 AM on September 14, 2011


You know those cigarette butt disposal things? Like this? Well, they open up pretty easily. She could open it up and stick the card a little ways down in the sand on the far side. The hole is too small for garbage/spit/poop, so (hopefully) you'd only have to deal with cigarette butts. (Which are gross themselves, but, like, not as bad as a full on garbage can.)

Basically the flower pot idea, only more SEEKRIT SPY-feeling.
posted by phunniemee at 9:42 AM on September 14, 2011


Have your wife pick a specific bookstore, go there and leave the card between two specific pages of a really obscure book. Then all she needs to do is tell you the address of the store, the book and the pages. If she chooses an unpopular-enough book, it's EXTREMELY unlikely anyone will find the card in the time-period we're talking about.
posted by grumblebee at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2011 [47 favorites]


Pick a Duane Reade. Most are open late or 24 hours near Penn Station. Leave it inside a greeting card, preferably one that is unlikely to be bought (perhaps a more obscure holiday).
posted by kathryn at 9:43 AM on September 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


Have your wife pick a specific bookstore, go there and leave the card between two specific pages of a really obscure book. Then all she needs to do is tell you the address of the store, the book and the pages. If she chooses an unpopular-enough book, it's EXTREMELY unlikely anyone will find the card in the time-period we're talking about.

That was my first thought, too, but can you think of any nearby that will be open until midnight? I think the Borders at Penn Plaza closes at 10pm, same for the surrounding Barnes and Noble locations. I know that St Marks Bookshop is open until midnight but it's out of the way.
posted by kathryn at 9:45 AM on September 14, 2011


...but we think that over the course of 2 hours someone's probably likely to find it.

It's a MetroCard; they're ubiquitous NYC garbage on the level of gum wrappers and cigarette butts. Even the people who collect MetroCards to see if there's something on them aren't going to be picking up flowerpots to get one.
posted by griphus at 9:47 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ooh, I like the book idea a lot. Put it inside a copy of New York City for Dummies. (That way, if it does go missing by the time you pick it up, at least there's a decent chance someone will use it.)
posted by phunniemee at 9:48 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was my first thought, too, but can you think of any nearby that will be open until midnight?

You're right, but drugstores are open late. So your greeting-card idea, which is essentially the same idea, should work.
posted by grumblebee at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2011


Here's another idea: tape it to the underside of a specific park bench. I doubt anyone will crawl under the bench and find it in three hours. If you want to be really careful, use bench-colored tape. Then even if someone does crawl under, they probably won't notice.
posted by grumblebee at 9:53 AM on September 14, 2011


I like the greeting card idea, but I bet you could leave the Metrocard at a Kinko's or equivalent. If you plead your position nicely enough, you might be surprised at how willing people are to help you.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:58 AM on September 14, 2011


You could put it into a suitcase and check it at the Pennsylvania Hotel's luggage storage across the street.
posted by Mchelly at 9:58 AM on September 14, 2011


This is a boring answer (and I LOVE this question -- it's really fun), but I'm betting most coffee shops or all-night diners would just do this for you. Just to be nice. If I was working in one, I would.

Wife puts card in envelope, goes into diner and (to be fair) orders something, a cup of coffee and a slice of pie or whatever. She then explains to the person behind the counter that she is leaving town, that her husband is coming into town a few ours later, and that she'd like to give him her metrocard. She asks if she can leave it at the diner and if her husband can come in later and pick it up. She writes his name on the envelope. The person behind the counter -- most likely -- says, "Sure, no problem."

I'm even betting a lot of hotel desks will do this for you, even if you're not staying at the hotel. Wife goes up to desk and says, "Hi. I was supposed to meet a client here in a few hours, but I have a personal emergency and have to leave. My client's name is ____ and I've written it on this envelope. Can I leave it with you and have him pick it up later, himself?"
posted by grumblebee at 10:01 AM on September 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


My first question is, why not at the hotel? Or wherever she is staying?

My suggestion is, put it in a book, put the book in a big manilla envelope. Make it a very boring book, bought used. Musty and stinky and absolutely not worth stealing. The envelope is to keep honest people out. Tucking the card into the pages is to keep slightly less honest people out.

Have her leave that book at the coffee shop if you must, with your first name written on it. Put a sappy love note atop the book, but not interleaved. Something about how meaningful this book is, and how it makes her think of you.

Better still to pull a ridiculous quote from the book, and assert that it has some profound meaning.

Any barista who would steal that needs the metro card more than you do. Or, is a total jerk. (Maybe both)
posted by bilabial at 10:11 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Synthesis of several great answers: go to one of the mom and pop gift shops in Penn station. Buy a card or book or something and say, "Can I leave this here for for my husband to pick up in a few hours?".
posted by dirtdirt at 10:13 AM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not staying at a hotel, so there's no front desk we can leave it at.

Is she? If it's any kind of a decent hotel they should hold an envelope behind the front desk (or, better, at the concierge) for a few hours until you can pick it up. Pretty much any "business class" hotel should do this, as should any decently swank place.
posted by anastasiav at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2011


Why not just have your wife leave it at the desk of the hotel you'll be staying at? (Or where ever it is you'll be staying?)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:18 AM on September 14, 2011


Why not just have your wife leave it at the desk of the hotel you'll be staying at? (Or where ever it is you'll be staying?)

If she's staying with friends, this won't necessarily work. For instance, I would be pissed off if she stayed with me and then he came into town and woke me up after midnight in order to get a metrocard. (But I'm not a night person.)

Also, if she's staying with people, say, in the Bronx, it's going to be a pain for him to go all the way there to get the card -- and he'd have to use a card to get there (or pay for a taxi).
posted by grumblebee at 11:35 AM on September 14, 2011


Synthesis of several great answers: go to one of the mom and pop gift shops in Penn station. Buy a card or book or something and say, "Can I leave this here for for my husband to pick up in a few hours?".

The stores at Penn Station close at some point. I've never been there at midnight, but I've been there often at 6am, and they're all closed.
posted by grumblebee at 11:36 AM on September 14, 2011


The Duane Reade at 34th and 8th (right by Penn Station, catty-corner to the Tick Tock Diner, where Bolt Bus picks up and drops off) is open 24 hours on weekdays. Sounds like a great place for the DEAD DROP.

have her put it in a sexy greeting card
posted by Greg Nog at 11:42 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please don't go into a diner or coffee shop and ask to leave shit there. I work in a diner in NYC and people have asked this of me, and it's always awkward and I think very presumptuous. Half the time people take days to come pick things up or never do, meanwhile I feel responsible for someone else's shit, taking the time and effort to watch over something valueless to me as a favor for a total stranger. Honestly, next time I'm saying no. I get tired of doing this for people.

So yeah, go the card-at-duane-reade route or the taped-to-something route. Good luck!
posted by greta simone at 4:50 PM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Penn Books, located inside Penn Station, is open until midnight tonight. Put the card in a copy of Going Rogue; I'm pretty sure it will be safe there.
posted by brain_drain at 5:25 PM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've done this with movie tickets when my date is going to arrive late and I want to save seats. I fold them up and shove them into a frame holding a movie poster and then I just tell my date which movie.

She could hide it anywhere in Penn Station and it most likely won't be taken (people will assume it has no money on it). I think the bigger problem will be giving you good enough directions to find it.

But I like the bookstore idea.
posted by valeries at 5:29 PM on September 14, 2011


Is there a laundromat nearby? Most laundromats have bulletin boards for posting stuff for sale, etc.

Tape the Metro card to the back of a 3x5 card. On the front, write something about web design, or a Tea Party meeting, something ubiquitous that won't lead to the card being taken.

Post the card on the bulletin board to be picked up later.
posted by gnossos at 5:48 PM on September 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


From the FAQ section of the villagedoorman.

Can I use this service to leave keys or other small items to my friends?
Yes! Place the item in an envelope or small box. On the label, include the full name of the person picking it up and the package ID you purchased. You will get the same notifications, including an email letting you know when it was picked up.

It isn't as clever as the other suggestions though.
posted by Sylvia Plath's terrible fish at 8:52 PM on September 14, 2011


Have your wife mail it to you to a post office general delivery (see also wiki and [shudder] ny daily news). You can pick it up the next day. I don't see why you need to pick it up at midnight. Just buy a cheap metrocard to use until you get to the post office tomorrow morning.

The James Farley Post Office is one of my favorite buildings in the city, I'm sad it's not what it used to be, but understand that no one uses USPS any more, I'm def. the internet generation, mailing letters sounds so funny to me, but I'm still sad. It's also a few blocks from Penn.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:45 PM on September 15, 2011


Thanks everyone - great suggestions in here!

We went with kathryn's greeting card idea and it worked like a charm! My wife went to the Duane Reade near Penn Station, and left it in a "husband appreciation" card on the theory that nobody would be likely to buy one (cute).

I loved the bookstore idea too, as well as some of the other ones, maybe next time.

Really interesting to learn about the Village Doorman and General Delivery services as well, I didn't know about those.

Thank you all so much!
posted by thumpasor at 11:48 AM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


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