Ahh...New York.

I've told these stories a few times before, but I thought I would chronicle them here for the cyber-world to enjoy with me and so I could have them easily accessible to make me smile when I am FED-UP with city-living (which, shockingly enough, has happened a good handful of times over the past 6 years) . 

I am absolutely convinced that I live in the most incredible city in North America. But I'm not a glassy-eyed groupie that doesn't see the ugly parts about it either. Oh I see. ..and I step in it. (but that's ANOTHER story.)

Here is one of the many snapshot scenes in my life here that has either defined what my fascination is with New York or has endeared me to it even more:

Hungry? I should grab a hot dog...
When I first moved here in February of 2004 I lived in Staten Island with my aunt and commuted daily to Manhattan for work. One day on my way back home, I realized I had forgotten to eat lunch and since it was going to be at least 2 hours before I would be home to eat dinner, I decided to grab something quick to tide me over.

Right outside of the Ferry terminal on the Manhattan side is a typical NYC hot dog stand.  I had time to kill before the next ferry so I figured I could endure the super-long line to grab a bite to eat.  While I was standing there at the end of the line - just minding my own business - some guy walks up to the LOONG line, looks me up and down, and cuts right in front of me!

I had a time-stands-still moment trying to figure out what to do. "Do I say something?" "Do I smile and let it go?" "Do I say something loudly about me being so nice and letting it go....?"  Pretty unsure of how to respond (I had just moved from East Texas...the land of politeness so I was still thoroughly well-mannered for a fiesty Puerto Rican) I decided to say in a very sweet, gentile way that the line was behind me.  But before I could even open my mouth...

A guy near the very front of the line, who saw what happened, spoke up. "What the f--k! No - way?! Who the F--k does that m-------k-r think he is?! Nuh uh..." He started pointing to me and then the line-cutter and yelling louder.  I wanted to disappear. I wanted to be home eating dinner. I just stared at the ground. Mister Potty-mouth at the front yelled, "That's just not f--king right?! Some people have no respect...." He waits until we've made eye-contact. "Miss! Hey lady!" I look at him and gesture as if to say, "Who me?" He nodds emphatically, " Yeah, you! Come up here. YOU get in front of ME...that stupid, good-for-nothing..." (and I'm trying to keep  it PG in the retelling!!)

I sheepishly walk towards him, hoping he doesn't punch someone, and get in line right in front of him, which actually meant it was now my turn to order.  Mr. Potty-mouth Superhero glared back at Mr. Line-cutter and then turned to the hot dog vendor and said, "Give this girl whatever she wants, I'm buying..." and puts some money on the counter. After being tempted to order pretzels and a Snapple too, I simply ordered a hot dog with sauerkraut, got a few extra napkins, mumbled thank you to both the hot dog vendor and Mr. Potty-mouth Superhero and walked away towards the ferry terminal where my boat was now boarding. I tried to deliberately not look at Mr. Line-cutter as I walked by. (But now that I know New Yorkers better, I realize I could've looked at him. Heck, I could've smile and asked how his day was, even after this whole deal!)

This was my first obvious glimpse into the golden heart of New Yorkers (...most. Definitely those who have been here longer than 10 years/were born here).  Tourists may see them as crass, in-your-face, don't-get-in-my-way-I-have-my-own-agenda people, but your average New Yorker simply has a heart of gold. Just stand in the middle of Herald Square (that's 34th and Broadway, by the Empire State Building, the big ol' famous Macy's, Madison Square Garden etc...) with a subway map and look a little lost...(try it, it'll be funny...serious.) Watch what happens.

At least 3 people will ask if you need help with directions in a very direct way that will make you feel bad  for wasting their time. After you tell them, "No, I'm fine, I'll be alright" at least 1 of them will get personally offended that you don't realize you need their PRICELESS assistance. Maybe they will keep insisting they can help you. If you're lucky they'll offer a funny story of how they grew up here and know the area like the back of their hands. If you're really lucky you'll get a longer story of how messed up the current mayor is and how tourists don't love the city like they do, peppered with expletives and colorful hand gestures.

It's just a scratch at the surface and I get that this is a HUGE generalization, but this is the New York I love. It's full of people who are actually, sub-consciously, looking out for each other, even as they are trying to survive themselves. People who are hardened by exposure to crime, cutting edge innovation, and culture, so they're are not easily shocked or impressed. Yet who will walk you all the way to your bus stop to make sure you don't end up going to Queens when you meant to go to the Upper Eastside.

I'll put up with my hilariously small apartment and my lack of a backyard. I ::heart:: New York.

(keep visiting for more "Ahhh....New York" stories...I've got plenty. :-) )


Megan Gahagan said...

Evita, this was so incredibly entertaining. I honestly wanted to keep reading more.

Thanks for this. I wish I could say people in NJ would offer tourists the same help. Lol.

Keep up the stories. I want to hear more.