When I Realized I Wasn't Tough Enough for NYC - Pt. 1

I'm watching the Sandy aftermath on television this morning and I am thinking about when I lived in New York City.  New Yorkers are some of the toughest people I know and this Sandy thing isn't going to be a problem for many of them.  They'll come through just fine, you know why?  Because every day life in New York City is tough.


Over the years I had put up with all the inconveniences of living in a such an old, expensive city.  I paid a small fortune to live in a dusty pre-war apartment a block from a very active fire station.   Because my apartment didn't have air conditioning, I worked up a sweat most mornings just taking a shower and blow drying my hair.  It was during my New York years that I started experimenting with letting my naturally curly hair go curly, because there was no beating it.  I put up with all of this so that I could have interesting (life sucking) jobs and so that I could be near the (future) Hubs.   I had one of the worst days of my entire life when I lived there and it was just during a normal rain storm.  My day was so shitty that I decided right then and there that I was not cut out for New York City and it was time to throw in the towel.

It was fall and it started raining around lunch time that day.  I knew the commute that night would be a nightmare (even though the subway is underground rain always throws it for a loop) so I decided I'd stay late and let it thin out a bit.  I worked for several hours that night and finally decided it was time to head home.  The rain had not let up at all.  It was falling in sheets and the gutters were a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume.  The subway station was just across the street from my building so I ran for it.  When I got to the stairs to the station, a couple inches of water was running down the stairs like a waterfall.  People were slipping and sliding.  I hadn't worn my tennis shoes that day but I was wearing flats.  I started down the stairs slowly, because I am a klutz.  About half way down I thought, Oh this isn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I let go of the railing.  BOOM!  I fell right on my ass and bounced down several stairs.  Yuck!  I was sitting in cold, greasy water that was running off the streets.  Fast food wrappers and empty coffee cups were floating past me.  I heard my train approaching the platform, so I grabbed my bag and moved as quickly as I dared through the rapids.

I managed to get to the train before it left and I was pleased to find it mostly empty.  At rush hour I would never get a seat, but that night I had a whole row to myself.  I sat down and tried not think about my cold, wet underwear sticking to me or if there was a cigarette butt caught in my slip.  I had a twenty minute train ride and I just wanted to calm down.

Food has always made me feel better, so immediately my mind went to "What are we having for dinner?"  I don't know what it is, but there is something about a cold and rainy night that always makes me want grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  I think my mom must have made that for me a lot on rainy days when I was a kid, because I am hard-wired for that stuff when the rain starts falling.

I was so busy dreaming of a hot shower and a grilled cheese sandwich (not together, of course!) that I didn't notice the man who came through from the other train car.  He stopped right in front of me and held onto the bar over my head.  At first I didn't think anything of it.  If you ride the subway in New York City you have no personal space.  Everyone is in your face.  It didn't seem unusual until I noticed that the car was still pretty empty and he could have gone anywhere.  Why was he standing in front of me??  I looked up and he was grinning at me and doing pelvic thrusts towards my face.  I looked at his nether regions and saw the tiniest, pinkest, wrinkliest penis I've ever seen sticking out of his fly.

Yup.  The guy was sticking his penis in my face.  I've just fallen down the disgusting stairs of a subway station and sat in a slush of trash, rat droppings and probably Ebola and now this guy is sticking his penis in my face??  What am I supposed to do with that?  I did what you'd expect.  I went nuts.  "Are you fucking kidding me with that shit?"  I yelled at him.  "Get the fuck out of my face, man!"  I shoved past him and moved to another seat while everyone else on the train gave us both some space.  In their defense it was hard to tell which of us was the crazy one.  He got off at the next stop to go wave his tiny penis in someone else's face and left me alone.

Now I really wanted my grilled cheese sandwich!  As we got closer to my stop I realized that I did not have the necessary ingredients to make a grilled cheese sandwich at my apartment.  I didn't have the most important ingredient:  BREAD.

I was going to have to venture to the "disgusting grocery store."  The disgusting grocery store was a block from my apartment, but I never shopped there.  It was so dirty that I was afraid to buy produce there.  I once got expired milk from there.  The meat always had a green tinge to it.  This store was for emergencies only.  Well, this was an emergency, I thought.  There was no way I was going to walk further in this deluge just to get a loaf of bread.  How bad could the bread be? I wondered.  They can't screw that up, right . . . ?

Come back tomorrow and find out how the disgusting grocery store can most certainly screw up a loaf of bread.

23 comments:

Amanda said...

This post makes me want to curl up and cry for you, and then go back to bed. There is no way I would be tough enough for New York.

Although I would have punched that perv in his teeny weenie SO HARD!

LINDA said...

OMGosh ! I would have kicked that man in the balls & then while he was in pain sprayed him with my pepper spray I carry in my purse ! HOLY CRAP !!!!!!!

Bonnie Faust said...

Lol...I live on Long Island. Took 15 1st grade Brownie troop to Statue of Liberty about 5 years ago. Planned everything down to the tiniest detail, even purchasing metro cards in advance and boxed lunches for them...took LIRR to Penn, then a subway down to Battery Park and walked to the ferry. What do they remember? The crazy man dressed like a bird cooing at them in the subway.

Unknown said...

I feel for you and your bad day, but you always seem like such a New Yorker ( read harda$$,tough as nails) when I read this blog. I was kinda surprised you didn't either pepper spray his weewee or laugh and point and call attention to his lack of a pleasure stick. Just sayin... And I'm hard wired the same way about the gc and mator soup. Our mother's must have read the same "How to hard-wire your kids " book.
Much love and keep up the awesome job of making laugh so hard I almost pee my pants

nmshanahan said...

I don't want to wait until TOMORROW!!!!!!!

Jenn said...

Oh, does this post bring back memories... I spent four years paying $2,000/month for a 550 square foot apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I always dreaded rainy commutes, as the subway ran at a snails pace. But, it was better than the alternative. You would have to WIN a fist-fight to get a cab home. I was never up to the task after a long day at work...

Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0 said...

I wish I was there to back you up on that subway. I was once stuck on a packed subway train with a drunk guy who attempted to whip it out and pee. I told him if I saw it, I was ripping it off and keeping it. (I won.)

Cheryl S said...

Wow. Gross. Wow.

I must admit that when I read that you had one of the worst days of your entire life bit, I was a little in awe of how you would remember that. I've had a lot of shitty days, and would be hard-pressed to remember...but yes, that would absolutely qualify. It got me to thinking about my own worst.

I grew up in South Florida, where rain always comes down in sheets and drenches you to your bones in seconds. I had a summer (read, rainy season) job at McDonalds, about 30 minutes by bus from our house. I was 14 years old. This particular day had horrible lightning storms as well as the rain. I was waiting for my bus, which was already 40 minutes late. A car pulled up, and I thought it was my mom in her company car. I walked over and there was a man smiling at me. Quickly I note the basketball in the backseat, and surmise he must have kids, and be a dad, and is therefore no threat to me.

Why I felt this way, I'll never know. He told me that the radio had just said all bus services were down, and where did I need to go? I told him, and wouldn't you know it? He was going to the same area. So I hopped in, figuring it was either ride with him, or get struck by lightning.

He made conversation with me on the way to work, and at first was very generic. Then he asked me if I ever thought of being an "escort." Then he tried to rape me. I hopped out of the car, and ran the rest of the way to work. I was frenzied and scared when I got to the Golden Arches.

My boss told me to calm down before I upset the customers.

True story.

RachelG said...

Grim days are for grilled cheese and tomato soup! Yummmmmm! My mom must have read the same book!
Can't wait for tomorrow's episode.

SanH said...

Now I just want to know the rest of the story.

And I agree that you should have punched that guy in the nuts.

AKA Jane Random said...

New York is an amazing place but I'm only half kidding when I say that every time I go there I spend half my time looking at the locals and mentally saying 'why do you do it?' I want to grab the women and put them in sweat pants and ponytails and say 'Have you been to my town? It's really nice! It's easier, I promise!'

Rain said...

I have never been a fan of big cities..they are nice to visit, but I prefer small towns.

JT1222 said...

I'm glad this is a 2-parter. You have me wanting grilled cheese now.

Unknown said...

Born and raised in the Bronx and yup that sounds like a typical NYC day!! Now living in the suburbs and miss the city everyday. It's that toughness that I wish my children would have when they grow up. NYers are not afraid of anything and I would hate for my kids to grow up fearful of life. Hopefully lots of trips to visit Poppa in the Bronx as well as trips to NYC will give them that courage to face anything!

Kim, One classy motha said...

I am sooo not a city girl! But I'd also dread being a country girl. I belong in the suburbs where I can drive my suv to Pottery Barn and circle the parking lot until I find a parking spot right next to the door. And yeah, that day of yours was total shit.

Beth said...

I have always said that i would LOVE to live in nyc for 6 months...prob just long enough to get a good thorough dose of the good, the bad and the ugly...to satisfy that longing for the amazing culture, gritty hardcore people and a pace that im sure would kick my ass (and im no schlep!)

Ive said that since i was in my early early 20's, now that im 38...i think ill just visit for a few days at a time and save my 6 months for my next life....maybe ill come back as a nyc rat! HA!!!!

Sorry kid, your mom doesn't play well with others said...

The most useful bit of knowledge I ever learned from the Oprah show... Grab and twist..

The Frazzled Mom said...

Wow! Surprised you didn't punch him in the throat, or elsewhere! What a story!
Cathy

Anonymous said...

Cheryl, that is horrible. I don't even know you, but I have a 13 year old daughter and a 10 year old daughter and that is some scary shit. My worst nightmare. I am so glad that you got away. And your old boss is a fucking douche to say the least. That made me angry.

Carlos said...

CInzana, if I'm interpreting your "fearful of life" statement correctly, I think I know what you mean. I lived in Queens as a kid in the 70's and 80's, and have lived in FL since then. I've always felt people outside of NY are afraid of everything....whether a terrorist will attack them in their suburban home in the middle of nowhere or to walk a few blocks to get a loaf of bread without their precious cars!

Anonymous said...

OMG. so glad you got away without any physical harm. So scary, I have a 10 year old and 6 year old and am always so scared. I know how easy it is to get in cars with strangers, I did growing up too, but, thankfully, he really was a good Samaritan who didn't want to see my friend and I come to harm so picked us up so we wouldn't!

DagrĂșn said...

I just finished reading your book Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat and I loved it! It's hilarious and I've been telling all my friends about it!

Can't wait to read your next book

DagrĂșn from Iceland:)

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms said...

You hooked me in with the yummy grilled cheese photo, but I'll continue reading on for the nasty. ;) Ellen

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