|Note: TBS does NOT stand for Turner Broadcasting Station|
I was sitting in my underwear, in a tiny apartment in Hiroshima, Japan, when I read the email offering the job. My thoughts exploded into an endless fractal of what to do next, but at the genesis was my decision whether or not to take the job: Yes.
|Family in Seattle|
On top of not having to worry about employment after five years on The JET Programme, which paid for my flight home - a flight I used to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousin in their new home in Seattle, before returning to Tucson, my new job was paying to fly me to New York. All I had to pay for was setting up my living arrangements from August until my first pay day, mid-September, and I had a zero balance on all my credit cards, so I even had some leeway. The only thing I worried about was packing, lugging my possessions halfway around the world, and finding an apartment in New York. In hindsight, the latter issue turned the first two into such minor nuisances that they are no longer worth discussing.
Sure, scary 'ol New York City is notoriously hard for finding an apartment, but I wasn't looking for a rent-controlled penthouse with a view of Central Park! I wasn't some aspiring artist with big dreams and empty pockets! I had already gotten a solid, respectable job, chosen a neighborhood (Astoria, Queens) well outside 'the hustle and the bustle' (as Strongbad would say), and had great credit BEFORE i paid of over 20k in student loans; realtors should be paying ME a finder's fee right?!? Wrong. But first thing's first, I needed a temporary place to stay for a week (HA!) while I find a place of residence.
After weeks of sifting and emailing through dodgy craigslist entries, I started getting crazy and desperate, but still cautious of being scammed. Finally, it was just three days before I flew from the safety of my little brother's couch in Arizona, when I settled on a Colombian who gave me his address, answered his emails from his smartphone, and would accept cash when I showed up on the doorstep.
|Ok, maybe I didn't research as much as I could have...|
Shit, I thought, I am still nervous as hell. I gotta be honest, even after arriving at the airport that first night in NYC, I was trying to find comparably affordable hotels or hostels so I could bail on this guy's offer and go with something that felt safer. I had left everything behind at my mom's place, and only brought a duffel bag packed with clothes, shoes, and a 5 year-old laptop, so I could use the internet if everything was alright, but I wouldn't be completely robbed blind if it was an overly elaborate mugging waiting to happen. Are you starting to feel the tension? I took a cab from the airport, and the guy spoke in a whispered indistinguishable language on his cell phone headset the entire time, missing the turn to my new street twice, heightening my nervousness. Finally, I arrived at the front door, knocked, and a Latina girl answered the door with an equal look of caution, which provided me with my first feeling of relief that day.
Then Carlos, El Colombian, brushed her aside and asked impatiently "why didn't you call?" I mumbled something stupid, as he waved me inside the hall and showed me to my room on the first floor. He was happy to let me put my things down, wasn't in a rush to get to my cash, and behaved like this was all as normal as the tide. Finally, he gave me the key to the front door, and separate key to my room, I gave him the cash, and sighed a deep breath of relief. I had made it to New York, and was doing way better than Joe's Apartment.
As my tension emptied, I was filled with excitement. After briefly introducing myself to my 5 Mexican roommates, including the first girl, I went outside to wander, unhindered by luggage. Just after 9pm, I found the closest subway entrance. Descending the staircase, I spotted a tiny booth outside the gates to the platform, and inside this booth sat David, an older man with the air of my Uncle Anthony, himself a New York native. David informed me how the Metro Card worked and that the trains ran 24 hours. That was all I needed to hear. I bought a card, and hopped on the next train to Times Square! That night I saw a withered, old, naked women with painted breasts, rats fighting on the opposite platform, and scurrying through the tracks, and quickly learned the pain of a society with very few public restrooms. Trying to get home, I learned that even though David hadn't lied about trains running 24 hours, the train I took to get there, the R, stopped running at midnight, and you had to take the E. Well! I took an N far enough to get nowhere near where an E would stop, and ended up transferring to a 7 to get back to my line and finally back onto an E home.
The next morning, jet lag woke me up early enough to buy food, snacks, and a bottle of tequila, which I would need for the ensuing house party, since just a few hours later, New York City was hit by a freak, once-in-a-lifetime hurricane that left everyone displaced or home-bound the whole weekend!
|Hey little guy! Are you welcoming me to New York? Thanks!|