I moved from the
to the Big Apple a little over two weeks ago.
Several people have asked me if I like it. I do, I say, but when I'm walking around, dodging mopeds,
I find myself preoccupied with fear. I know that at any moment I may be accosted by Brandon Stanton and be
forced to whip up some deep and sweet and pithy story that exactly captures the essence of my life and the essence
of what it is to be alive. This fear, more so than the mopeds, keeps me on my toes. Well, Mr. Stanton, here you go.
These are a few stories about life in the city, moving, and fleeting moments of joy. There is also one
deep one about The Machine and our relation to it. Now leave me alone.
When the woman at the burger place handed me my bag, the ticket slipped out
of her hand and flew around. She caught it and laughed. "Nice catch," I said.
I had just left work and was walking to the subway when it started to rain. It was
late evening thunderstorm rain, the kind you know is about to get worse. When the
first drops fell, someone behind me screamed. I turned to see a woman scrambling to
get under the nearest awning, pulling her friend along with her. Her friend was
laughing at her. "Get the umbrella, get the umbrella," the first woman said.
Her hair looked flawless. I hope it stayed that way.
"Excuse me. Hey! You forgot your broom," said the Target cashier. I hustled back,
shaking my head. "Thanks," I said. In that single glance, a mere second of eye
contact, I felt like he knew everything I had been through that whole week to
end up at Target on Labor Day at 5pm, buying a broom and barbecue sauce and
suction cup shower shelves and Swiffer Wipes and 3 white undershirts and sesame seeds
and then almost leaving without the broom. He saw, too, everything he had just saved me from.
Having helped my roommate move from 4pm to 11pm the night before, I woke up at 6:45am to
meet my other roommate to drive (in the van she had rented and driven from Boston) to a Budget
office so that I, being physically present at the office, could be added to the list of allowed
and insured drivers, so that I could legally and under insurance coverage drive the van to
New Jersey to retrieve all of my belongings, which I had left at my parents house. (Yes, we
tried to add me to the list of drivers beforehand, but I was not in Boston when my roommate
got the van. Yes, I could have rented a separate van. No, I never managed to get on the list.
Yes, I drove the van anyways. No, I didn't hit anything. It was fine. This is all besides the point.)
When we got to the Budget office, the only place to park was a parking garage, but the clearance of
the garage was not high enough for the van. It was at this point that we realized that we had driven
25 minutes through Brooklyn to a Budget Car Rental office, not a Budget Truck Rental office. I
figured that it wouldn't hurt to ask if they could help anyways, so I jumped out.
The office was inside the parking garage, around a few corners, a detail which will become important soon.
I made my way to the office. The Budget man, triaging the two-person line while a third person
finished filling out some forms, asked me why I was there. I explained the situation.
"You need Budget Truck Rental for that, my friend. This is Budget Car Rental," he said, predictably.
"There's no way you can help?" I asked hopelessly.
He shook his head gravely. He was wearing a yellow do-rag. I left, winding my way back through
the parking garage and out towards the corner to hail the circling van. On the sidewalk, a line
had formed in front of a coffee and pastry cart. Not two spots from the front was a man in a yellow
do-rag. I did a double take. It was the Budget man!
"How'd you get here so fast?" I asked, laughing.
He said, "I'm Batman. It's my bat cave. I've got secret exits."
I updated my address at work and was prompted to fill out the New York State Department of
Taxation and Finance's Form IT-2104: Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, New York State -
New York City - Yonkers. Rather than let me upload a PDF version of the form, the horrible, over-designed
payroll software that my company uses forced me to fill out the form using their horrible, over-designed
user interface. The first question on Form IT-2104 is "Are you a resident of New York City? Yes/No."
I thought that I was, but the payroll software had pre-selected "No" and wouldn't let me change it.
Maybe I should show it my moped-dodging skills. Maybe I should show it my vignettes. Or, maybe, it's
right. Maybe I haven't moved in yet.