To all individuals concerned with my general well being:
It has been a few weeks since I got lost in Harlem. I'm happy to say that I have not gotten lost since then. Perhaps even more astonishing, I have not yet been mugged. As this is the case, I would like to formally retract my fear of New York City.
Now for two very different stories. The first is very placid, soothing and perhaps a bit mushy. The second is disturbing.
For those of you who don't know, I found a job showing apartments for a real estate company. As part of my job, I have ventured to Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. (I actually haven't made any money yet because its 100% commission...). As I show the apartments I get to talk with all kinds of people; from university students to professors to doctors and construction workers. They all have different interests and priorities. I talked with one guy about the human condition and the fall of democracy, another about trauma patients, and still another about drug dealers.
I have learned a lot about these people specifically, and one thing about people in general; they all want their home to be a safe place. One where they aren't criticized or made fun of by roommates, one that is clean and free of bugs, one that offers protection from the heat and cold, and one where they can be loved. Some people don't find all of this, and it has made me very grateful that I have always had a home like that. So, thank you parents, siblings, former roommates, and especially Kim.
Now, lest you think New York has made me go soft, here is the second story. This is the point where you should stop reading out loud and proceed with caution. Human waste is involved.
I was riding on the "A" train when seven or eight teenage girls ran from their end of the train car to mine screaming "I'm going to puke!" and "That is so gross!" and "Get me out of here!" I was alarmed that I was going to be puked on so I maneuvered to avoid being hit by any vomit that might escape from the nice school girl. Only then did I realize the cause of the nausea. A very large, very stinky homeless man was peeing on the floor of the subway car as it was driving down the track. Gross. He then proceeded to pull down his pants, squat against the wall and relieve his bowels. Very gross.
The girls, myself, and the rest of the train riders conversed about our shared horrific experience and at the next stop, moved to the next train car. I went in to work and asked if it is normal for the 4th car on the northbound "A" train to be used as a homeless bathroom. The answer was no, but I no longer set my bag on the floor of any subway cars.
Thank you for reading,