Encounters in NYC Part 2: My purse is gone

It was my first time in New York City. I came for a work-related conference but was exploring the city by myself at night.

I come from a small Appalachian town where public transportation is nonexistent. We drive cars here. So I felt pretty good about having taken the subway, crowded at rush hour, down to the financial district to see the 9-11 memorial. It had closed by the time I got there.

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With my cell phone battery dying and because I kept getting lost, I headed back to the side of town where my hotel was.

I was  walking along 57th Street West around 10 p.m., probably with my eyes aimed at the tall buildings all around me. There’s a lot to take in in that city. Suddenly I was  aware I wasn’t carrying my purse anymore.

I had been carrying a clutch purse with a cord that was around my wrist. And it was just gone. I didn’t feel anyone snatch it from me. I sure as heck did not lay it down anywhere. But it was still gone. I stopped on the sidewalk, felt my coat pockets again and again. Nope, not there.

So. Many. Curse words.

I was alone in the city, except for a few people I met at the conference. The cash could be replaced and my credit card could be canceled but my license was in there. How do you fly without an ID?

Great, I thought. My first time in the city and I can’t ever leave. I’m gonna end up with a sleeping bag and a cardboard sign that reads “Too ugly to strip,” begging for the kindness of strangers.

My cell phone and hotel key were in my coat pockets, thank God. I could call for help and I had somewhere to sleep, at least for a couple nights.

I stopped a random stranger on the street. “What do you do if your purse is stolen?” That’s a dumb question, I know. It must have been the shock. Plus I didn’t know how New York City’s police dispatch would feel about fielding a call about a lost purse when people were probably murdering people or stealing cars elsewhere in the city.

“There’s always a cop in Columbus Circle,” he said.

Columbus Circle, NYC October 2013

Columbus Circle, NYC October 2013

I headed there and found a police car sitting in traffic. The two officers were nice but didn’t seem to want to believe the purse had been taken. “Let’s just look for it first. Maybe we’ll find it. Miracles happen.”

Ok, officer, I thought. Let’s you and me retrace my steps while some criminal is off using my credit card to buy an X-box and stealing my identity. They eventually took me back to the police station for paperwork, then drove me to my hotel.

“Hey, those people are looking at you because they think you’re a criminal,” one of them joked. “You should get out and run.”

“Oh, can I do that?!”

“No, you’d get tackled,” he said. Fair enough.

Lincoln Center, October 2013.

Lincoln Center, October 2013.

I thanked the officers as I got out of the car at my hotel. I shared an elevator with two women on my way to my room.

“How’d you get a police escort?” one of the them asked, grinning.

“My purse was stolen,” I said.

It’s kind of funny, when you think about it. A girl from the sticks goes to the big city for the first time in her life and, while exploring, all wide-eyed, and innocent, has her purse stolen. I’m a cliche, I keep telling people. I’m pretty sure this was an episode of Beverly Hillbillies.

But you know who wasn’t a cliche? Some of the New Yorkers that I met while I was there. People say New Yorkers are rude and unkind, but I met people who bucked that stereotype. One of the conference staff members gave me cash from her own pocket when she found out my  money was gone. Another acquaintance bought me dinner one night.

I found out you can’t wire a person money if they don’t have an ID. Well, my mom found that out when she tried. I think she was even more panicked than me about what happened. And a little miffed. “What were you doing walking around New York City by yourself after dark?!” she asked.

Turns out you can fly without an ID. Someone at the airport did a background check on me and then asked me questions about myself to make sure I was who I said I was. When they told me about the process, I was briefly concerned they’d come back with some creepy NSA questions about stuff they shouldn’t know anyway.

“OK, what color are your bedsheets?” I imagined the man asking.

Nope, the questions were about my birthday, car and previous address. Good, I know these answers, I thought.

I made it into the security area of the airport and was “randomly” selected for a full pat down. As if standing with my arms above my head while a strange man sees through my clothes during a full body scan wasn’t enough, they also had to subject me to more touching than I’m used to on most dates.

And they didn’t even buy me dinner.

“I bet you’re so ready to leave New York,” another airline security guard had said to me me while I waited for my background check.

Yes, I was. But I hope I can go back. Next time I hope I don’t have to involve the cops.

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Encounters in NYC Part 1: Honesty is the best policy

I’m in New York City a couple days for a work-related seminar. I got in Sunday afternoon and, because it’s my first trip to the city, headed straight for Times Square after checking into the hotel. What a trip that place is. Street venders everywhere vying for your attention. All the trinkets and t-shirts and stuff you could ever want. The lights. The sounds. The … smells.

One of my first conversations with a person here was this guy.

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This is James. He’s just standing in the middle of Times Square. Asking for money to buy weed. And it sounds like people actually give it to him.

To be clear, this is absolutely ridiculous. But his smile in this video cracks me up every time I watch it.

Songs for a roadtrip

One of my friends recently packed his car and took off for a city 9 hours away. It was the latest installment of what I call the Mass Exodus of 2013, in which all my friends move away. But that’s another blog post.

I wanted to make him a mixed CD for the road, because I am just that cheesy. But also because I think the best part of a good road trip is the music.

But alas, my MacBook STILL has that copy of Food Inc. stuck in the CD drive. It’s been, like, a year and I never even got to watch it.
I know you didn’t ask, but here’s what would have been on that CD. All of these songs are newish to me. A lot of them I discovered using iTunes Radio. (If you haven’t updated yet, iOS 7 is worth it, if only for iTunes Radio, in my opinion).

Let me know if I left something good off the list.

  1. Matt Wertz “What I know right Now”
  2. Bastille “Pompeii”
  3. Lorde “Royals”
  4. The Family Crest  “Love don’t go.”
  5. Vance Joy “Riptide”
  6. Ryan Adams “Lucky Now”
  7. One Republic “I lived”
  8. Jason Isbell “Traveling Alone”
  9. The Avett Brothers “Another is Waiting”
  10. Neulore “Shadow of a man”
  11. Ivan & Alyosha “Don’t wanna die anymore”
  12. Lee Dewyze “Like I do.”
  13. Jared and the Mill “Breathe me in”
  14. Avicii “Wake me up”
  15. Passenger “Let her go”
  16. Vienna Teng “Whatever you want”

You gotta be cruel to be kind

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For nearly a summer earlier in my 20s, I went out with a guy I met through my work. I was attracted to his sarcastic, dry sense of humor that mirrored mine, his light blue eyes  and his sandy blonde curls. Put simply, I was smitten.

It was maybe two months into the relationship when I could sense him pulling away. He didn’t text or call as much and I didn’t see him as often. At first I chalked it up to his hectic work schedule: summers were the busiest time for his job. But I think in my heart I knew what was really going on.

That didn’t stop me from pursuing him, from waiting around for his calls and texts.

One morning I sent him a text and he initially responded. Then he stopped communicating altogether. He stopped texting literally in the middle of the conversation. And, save for one work-related Facebook message months later, I never saw or heard from him again.

For a long time, I hated him for not having the courage to call and explain himself, for leaving me without any sense of closure.

Now that I’m (a whole three years) older and wiser, I still think what he did was cowardly, but I have more grace for him. Unless you’re a terrible person, dumping someone just sucks.

Especially when the person is perfectly nice and sweet and has few other faults besides not being compatible.

But there’s also a kindness to breaking up with a person, one that I hadn’t recognized until recently. It is a much kinder thing (in a dating relationship, at least)  to tell someone you’re not feeling it than to string them along for any period of time. It’s a kind thing to do for yourself, too. If you don’t stick up for what you want, no one else will do it for you.

There’s not much respect for that type of kindness. It’s easy to hate someone who can’t end a relationship gracefully, who chooses to stop responding to text messages rather than sitting down over a cup of coffee and saying how they feel.

Clearly, some ways of breaking up with someone are kinder than others. Sure, I would have much rather had a conversation. But I’ll tell you one thing, his silence sent a message. And while it may have broken my heart, I never had to wonder what he was trying to say.

And there’s something to be said for that.

Yard envy

noun. A condition common among young urbanites who leave their tiny apartments to visit their country-dwelling counterparts. Characterized by the strong desire to feel grass beneath their feet, sit by a bonfire on a cool autumn night or throw a frisbee for the dog they’ll one day own when they move away from the city. See also porch envy.

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