Monday, March 20, 2006

Little New York

Top Three Heartwarming Things That Happened to Me in NYC This Past Week:

1. I resent the Laundromat
for taking up time from my precious weekends and evenings. But, really, it's all my fault because I'm the Type-A laundry-doer who has to follow the instructions on each tag to a T rather than sending my laundry out like everyone else in the city. (Trust me, this is the only thing I'm anal about. I can't remember the last time I used Pledge, got a pedicure, or checked my bank statement for errors.) But last weekend, I threw my loads in the Laundromat washers, dropped off two shirts for dry-cleaning, gave them my name and phone number to put at the top the carbon-copy slip, and went back to reading my book, glancing at the clock every five minutes, and nearly dying of impatience.

An hour later, when the loads were finally all dried and folded and tucked elegantly into a giant Hefty bag to haul back to my apartment, I lugged the whole mess out the door, waving goodbye to the desk girl who had taken my dry-cleaning. Her happy voice rang out with a slight accent: "Goodbye, Newbie! Have a good weekend!" (Of course my name isn't Newbie, but bear with me for these purposes.) She remembered my name. And sometimes? That's enough to put you in a good mood for the rest of the afternoon, wasted laundry time or not.

2. There is only one bagel place in NYC worth going to, and I would totally tell you if I didn't think it would give away to the universe where I live. But if anyone wants to know it that badly, e-mail me, and we'll work something out. I was at said bagel place this morning, and I rattled off my usual all-grain-with-butter order. The guy behind the counter made it and brought it to me. Sometimes he likes to be cute and pretend he got it wrong. So this morning he said, "Sesame with cream cheese?" I gave him a big smile. Jokesters like to be humored, even when it's 9 a.m. and one hasn't had one's coffee yet. "Someday," I said, "you're really going to fool me." He replied, "You're the only customer who understands me. Everyone else says, 'No, I didn't order that.'" And I sort of loved that: My bagel guy, like a postmodern artist, just wants to be understood. And I'm the patron who gets it.

3. I went to a birthday party at a hipster bar for a friend of the Boyf's (who I guess is my friend, too...? Never sure how to categorize these people) on Saturday, and a friend of mine, T, was there. He had brought a friend of HIS, K, and so while T was ordering a drink, I kept K company. Over the timespan of however long T took to snag a beverage from the busy bar, which I'm estimating to be about 10 minutes, K and I had covered what he did for a living, where he went to school, how old we both were, how old our significant others were, whether either of us had talked about marriage, why we did what we did for a living, what we thought of bloggers, and how we should totally find a cute girl for T to hit on tonight. When T finally came back, K looked at T and said, "She's so nice." T replied, "Isn't she?" And I felt proud.

And that's one thing that I hope I never lose in Manhattan: friendliness. Sometimes I have trouble speaking up in meetings, trusting my gut, stabbing people in the back, gossiping, clawing my way to the top however I can, and being otherwise cold. I trust too soon, like people too much, and don't always see the grit in life. And maybe I'll lose in my career because of it. God knows I've lost in relationships because of it. But I firmly believe that there's something to be said for civility, for smiling, for laughing at others' jokes, and otherwise making the person you're conversing with feel good, no matter what his or her job or what he or she can do for you. I would want the same in return. If being nice is wrong, I don't wanna be right.


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