It is bright, sunny and cold on Easter Tuesday, April 2, with a light dusting of snow on the ground. We plan to leave for New York City around 7:30 a.m., visit Ground Zero, which Sr. Laura has never seen, have lunch in Chinatown, and stop for a brief visit with Sr. Sheila’s nephew, Gabriel, in Bedford Stuyvesant, after which we’ll head out to JFK to pick up Sr. Marie-Benoît, a Benedictine of French nationality from Martinique, who is a member of the Montserrat community in Spain. Sr. Marie-Benoît will stay with us for about a week.

At 4:30 a.m., there is an email from Sr. Marie-Benoît: her flight has been rescheduled, and will arrive at 7:30 p.m. We try contacting friends in NY who might be able to pick her up at the airport, give her a bed for the night and help her to get a bus to Binghamton the next morning, but no one is home. At 11:30, Air France announces a further delay: the flight is expected to arrive at 8:23 p.m.

Plan B: we set out for NY at 12:30, drive past Ground Zero, which is now full of construction and inaccessible to visitors, have an early supper in Chinatown, and drive to JFK, with Sr. Donald expanding our knowledge of NYC geography as we drive. Parking is easy, we find a Starbucks on the upper level of Terminal 1, wake up with espresso and cappucino, and watch the planes take off.

At 8:04 p.m. Air France flight 006 has landed, so we go downstairs to wait for Sr. Marie-Benoît to emerge from customs. We wait for a little over an hour. Meanwhile, the passengers on AF flight 006, who have started heading toward the exit, are ordered to return to their original seats, where they wait for another 25 minutes. Finally, four policemen come on board, handcuff a passenger, and lead him off the plane, after which the other passengers are free to leave.

Sr. Marie-Benoît finally emerges, we make our way to the car, and about 200 ft. beyond the exit to the parking lot, the car dies. We call AAA. A couple of vans from the airport parking service stop and their drivers try to figure out what’s the matter. They decide that the alternator has died. Sr. Sheila tries to remember how to say “alternator” in French, without success. Other drivers honk, and one nice man hands us a few dollar bills. The triple AAA representative spends about half an hour with us on the phone, puts us on hold while she consults other AAA people, and finally tells us that because we are on airport property, they cannot come and tow us. We have to get a company hired by the airport to tow us to just outside the airport grounds, to the tune of $136, and once we are no longer on airport property, we need to call them back to make further arrangements.

The airport towing people are very nice and don’t charge us anything. Not only that, they come with two tow trucks, so all four of us will be able to ride to Building 206 outside the airport grounds.

Back to AAA: more negotiations. We get 100 miles of free towing, after which we shall have to pay $4/mile + tax for each additional mile. We can have the car towed home to Windsor, or we can have it towed to a garage in NYC, which will mean that two of us will have to drive back to pick it up in a day or two. Our dog and cat are at home, nobody besides us has a key to the monastery, so somebody has to go home tonight. The tow truck can take only two of us. By this time, it is about 11:00. We call our friend Sr. Celia, a Sister of Sion who lives in Brooklyn; she says she’ll be happy to welcome two of us for the night. AAA says they will call us back within 20 minutes to let us know when the tow truck will arrive. They call with the news that the tow truck will be there at 11:44.

Sr. Donald decides that she and Sr. Laura will ride home in the tow truck, and Sr. Marie-Benoît and Sr. Sheila will go to Brooklyn for the night. The nice men who had given us a free tow take Sr. Marie-Benoît and Sr. Sheila to the yellow cab station, where they get a cab to Brooklyn and are warmly welcomed by our two Sisters of Sion.

Sr. Donald and Sr. Laura set out in the tow truck, which seems not to have much power, and can go up hills at only about 35 mph. At one point, another truck passes too close to the tow truck, breaking the side mirrors on both trucks. The trucks stop, the two drivers get out and yell at each other, and the tow truck driver finally decides to take off. Soon they are followed by a police car with its rotating lights signaling them to stop. The two sisters are ordered to get out of the truck and sit in the patrol car, where they remain for about 25 minutes. They are questioned as witnesses to the accident. They think the tow truck driver was accused of leaving the scene of an accident, and finally they are allowed to resume their trip.

They arrive home at around 6:00 a.m., just as our chaplain is heading towards the chapel for his early morning holy hour. The AAA driver charges $500 for the tow. Sr. Donald thinks they are being grossly overcharged and vows to call his boss later in the day.

Sr. Marie-Benoît and Sr. Sheila spend a comfortable, if too- short, night in Brooklyn, where Sr. Celia serves them a substantial breakfast, walks them to the subway, and tells them which trains go to Port Authority. The Shortline bus from Port Authority follows Route 17 to Binghamton, which gives Sr. Marie-Benoît the opportunity to see some beautiful late-winter scenery under blue sky and sun. The day ends with a late lunch, brief naps, Vespers combined with Mass, Compline on our own, and so to bed.