(A Journey of a Leap of Faith)
The other night I had the pleasure (sarcasm alert) of witnessing a domestic dispute family affair style with one of the neighbors on my street. I dutifully called 911 who sent 3 police cars to the scene in under 10 minutes. I remember when I called the Astoria, Queens police to report the fact I was being followed and how one of the officers responded with “Are you new to New York?”.
Oddly enough witnessing a random, screaming, potentially violent interaction evoked homesickness for that city. (Perhaps yet another reason to add to the list why it was good to get out of there).
In New York City I was always on the move internally and externally. Here I am so much more settled, taking root and growing in ways unimaginable two years ago. People are good here. While I’d be the first to defend New Yorkers and their true hearts underneath the veneer, (disclaimer this is a tad generalized) I can say there is a moral compass within folks in OKC that was much more… vague in NY.
Yet I miss New Yorkers. They, we, can be a rare breed.
Like Ireland (as a friend pointed out- has anyone ever met an unwitty Irishman?) New York breeds a culture of storytellers, of performers, of zero bullshitters and the best bullshitters on the face of the planet. Of a sense things can change on a dime and you better be ready. It a heck of a training ground (for better and for worse). Ain’t no one going to pull a fast one on New Yorkers.
Which leads me to this story:
I finally brought my car to the mechanic this week. I’ve been convinced something is up with my brakes and been dreading the bill which would come with fixing them. (Just before heading West last summer I had nearly $1,500 work done on the car, some of which included fixing my brakes. Sigh.)
I went to the mechanic (recommended by a friend) armed with my invoice from the work I had done. No way was I going to be some stereotypical female chump at the mechanic who pays for work that was already done, cause that is what they do, right? No way Jose. I was ready for them.
I pulled up and entered the garage’s office. It looked straight out of 1979 down to the magazines. Low ceilings, yellow light, short furniture which looked as if it was taken with the cool retro Instagram lens and a faded and scuffed tile floor which called to mind my elementary school. I was greeted as soon as I entered by the man behind the desk who had a kind face, the hunched shoulders of someone far beyond his years and one heck of an accent. I explained my concerns and he nodded, reaching for my keys at the same time.
“Well, why don’t we just pull her into the garage and take a look to see what’s wrong,” he said as he shuffled towards the door where my car was parked outside. I anxiously took a few steps in his direction to halt his progress.
“Uh, sure, thanks. But before we do anything like that- I’d just like to get a sense of what that is going to cost,” I said.
He paused and turned back to face me, his hand still on the door handle. He looked politely confused.
“Well, ma’am we just need to get a good look see before I can tell you something like that,” he kindly explained.
“Of course. I apologize- what I meant was how much does the ‘check-up’ cost?”. The invoice was burning a hole in my pocket.
He looked a bit unsure, as if he suspected I may be a little slow and clarified again, “ There ain’t no charge to look at it. We need to check your car out to find what is wrong with it. Then once we know what is wrong with it- then I can give you the cost”.
We gaped at each other for a moment and then I began to laugh. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m from New York City and…” I trailed off.
He began to laugh too. “And they’d charge you for just walking in the door, right?”
In the end, all it was was my back brakes were out of alignment and very dirty. They cleaned them up, straightened them out, asked me about my life story and charged me $19.53 for the whole experience.
I know I can go on about life in New York vs. life in Oklahoma City but it’s been a rare… treat or experience to see how formative my time was in New York and how it informed me in my reactions and expectations of situations. It’s cool, at an age where you feel like you’ve a good sense of yourself, to be in a new situation with old expectations and be able to pull the invoice of experiences out of your pocket and take stock- for how much that training ground cost me and how much those experiences gave me.
It was worth it.