Fetch Me A Rope

Sunday, September 17

Where The Heck's The Volume On This Thing?

Yet again I am sitting in a restaurant while some numbskull carries on a conversation at full volume with the person right in front of them, forcing every person in a 15 foot radius to listen against their will. What is it with people in this city?!?! Apparently there is an unfortunate portion of the population at large afflicted by a terrible condition that leaves them completely devoid of personal volume control and/or locational awareness. I can only hope that evolution will do its part and that these people will not breed. If today’s example is in any way representative of the group as a whole, then there’s not much to worry about. I was forced to listen to how this guy has so many girls’ names stored in his cell phone that he can’t even begin to remember them all. While I’m sure little facets of his personality such as this make him extremely attractive to those females not looking to breed, I would imagine they make him completely repulsive to those in search of a mate. So, it looks like this unfortunate group will thankfully become extinct one day. Unfortunately for those of us around right now, these things tend to take millennia to come to fruition, so we’re stuck sharing our personal spaces with these people for the foreseeable future. If only there were a universal sign for “if I have to listen to you talk for one more second, I’m going to throw up on you,” I’m sure all this could be avoided. I’ll have to get to work on that one.

Saturday, September 16

Secret SoHo Sojourn

Kay and I decided to go do some shopping today, so we headed for the infamous Chinatown section of SoHo in search of some cheap knock-off designer accessories. Kay in particular was looking for a purse, and I for some sunglasses. We push our way through the crowded streets filled with vendors and shoppers alike, all bartering and barking at each other in an overwhelming cacophony. We peruse a couple of streetside offerings, then step into a small indoor shop that has purses hanging from its walls. We are immediately ambushed by a very insistent Asian girl who keeps repeating “You want purse? You come this way.” We reluctantly follow her to the rear of the store, where she pushes aside some hanging clothes and presses on what looks to be an ordinary section of wall, which gives way to reveal that it is actually a door to another room packed full of shoppers and purses bearing the names of such ultra-chic studios as Prada, Gucci and Chanel.

Now whether these are real offerings or not is unclear. What is clear is that the prices for these items are a fraction of what their certifiable counterparts fetch over on Fifth Avenue. In years past, knock-off items found in places such as this were always discernable by obvious imperfections like slightly off-center labels, or slight misspellings of the original designer’s name. These versions seemed to show no such imperfections. Looks like either the knock-off guys have gotten much better at what they do, or that items still manage to fall off the back of trucks on the Jersey Turnpike. Either way, a very interesting experience indeed. I think to myself yet again: “Only in New York.”

Thursday, September 7

Only In New York

Okay, so I've been looking into apartments so that I can get my own place up here. Not that I don't love Kay or anything, but this little apartment was never intended to have two people living in it. In fact, I'm not sure this place was meant to have two people in it period. Just kidding :)

But seriously, I'm looking through all these posts for “by-owner” and “no-fee broker” apartments on Craig’s List, and I see a no-fee one for a 1BR in Gramercy at an unbelievable price. It says it’s in a rent-stabilized “luxury” building, so I decide to check it out. I call up the number and talk to Esther. She tells me the way their “no-fee” brokerage works is that they do application pre-screening and background checks for the apartment management companies. She says it costs $190, which is pretty darn cheap compared to what the full-service brokerages cost, so I say no problem. She gives me an address, and we setup a time to meet. Now the address she gives me is not in what I would consider the “Gramercy” area, but I don’t think too much of it and I head off to meet her at the apartment.

When I reach the given address, it is not the apartment after all -- it’s the brokerage. I find this a bit odd, but figure she just wants to meet me before going to the apartment; no big deal. I find my way inside and am handed an application to fill out by someone who is not Esther, but assures me that they will be showing me the apartment instead. I begin to fill out the application and then stop. I ask Mystery Broker #2 if I will have to pay their fee for this application that I am filling out. She says yes. I ask if I have to do this before getting to see the apartment. She again says yes. Beautiful. I just walked over 25 blocks only to find out that some chick wants me to give her 200 bucks for the privilege of getting to see her apartment that I may or may not be interested in. I tell her I’ll take the application with me and head out the door. What a wonderful waste of time that was -- or so I thought.

I’m near Madison Square Park, so I decide to stop in and take a break since it’s a gorgeous day. As I walk into the park, I realize there’s a giant JumboTron showing the U.S. Open live, which I also realize is taking place just a subway ride away over in Flushing, Queens. How cool is this?!? Being a big tennis fan, I sit down to watch for a bit with my fellow New Yorkers. Not five minutes later, the screen suddenly changes and I realize that the scene it now shows is actually happening right in front of me. And what a scene it is! Chris Everett and Mary Carillo have just sat down for an interview. I can’t express how cool this was! I’ve been a tennis fan since I was a little kid, and Chris Everett is one of the best female tennis players of all time. And Mary Carillo has probably been covering tennis matches since before I was born. And now I am sitting in a park in New York City and both of them are not more than 20 feet away from me having a nice little chat about Chris’s career, her current projects and the current state of the tennis world. Amazing! (By the way, did I mention I was excited by this?!?!)

Needless to say, the rest of the day was pretty darn normal in comparison to this. What a great “welcome to your new life in New York” though -- where spectacles and superstars are normal, and normal is rare. I love it!

Monday, September 4

Delishously Dorky

Another episode today of things that take some getting used to in the city. We're out at brunch today and there is a group of girls sitting next to us who are having a long conversation at full volume, never thinking for a moment that the other people in the restaurant might not want to hear about how the "delishiously dorky" kid they all secretly want to sleep with, or how one of them peirced her own eyebrow one Summer at church camp and who luckily missed the vein because she "went so deep she got underneath it." Mmm. I know I love a little piercing discussion with my huevos rancheros! Makes them taste oh so much better!

Coming from a small town, I just can't fathom this type of blatant disrespect for others. Or if not disrespect, then at least a complete indifference to the existance of other human beings. But this situation is definitely more the norm than the exception here. In a city so overflowing with people that restaurants often sit you at tables with complete strangers in order to make the most efficient use of space possible, I guess you have to at some point just learn to tune them out and act like they aren't there. But God help me if I ever reach the level of supreme insulation that these girls had developed. I mean, all-in-all, it has been my experience that New Yorkers are much more kindhearted, helpful, and just plain nice than I had expected. But please folks, let's not forget that niceness comes in many forms. It doesn't have to stop with the obvious ones like helping the little old lady across the street, or picking up someone's dropped change for them. When you're surrounded by others in a relatively quiet place - especially when food is involved - let's keep those personal hygiene stories to ourselves. 6" voices people. . . 6" voices.

Wednesday, August 23

The Super, Part II

The super finally came to install the A/C today. What a piece of work this guy is. First off, he looks to be at least 55 and is no more than 5' 2". He doesn't speak great English, but then I didn't really expect him to. He comes in and takes one look at the A/C unit and is basically like, this goes here, that goes there, and then you put it in the window. Okay, bye. I'm like, whoa there buddy, I already tried that and it doesn't fit. He says it does fit, shows me the same thing and then tries to leave again. I have to - as he's moving for the door - jump on the window sill, hold the half-assembled A/C housing and show him what I've been trying to tell him about why it doesn't work. He finally stops trying to leave for a second and says "oh yeah, it doesn't fit, eh?" I'm like YOU THINK?!?!!

He then determines that the problem is just a part of the plastic housing pieces that sticks out and proceeds to cut those off with a pocket knife. He then says we should be good now and starts to leave again. I jump in his way and ask how we're supposed to secure the thing, since there's no screw holes in the window frame, and the housing has three places that are obviously supposed to be screwed into something. He turns back around and just says to screw it into the window frame. I'm like "if you want to do that, that's fine, but I'm not screwing anything into that window frame." So, he grabs a screwdriver and proceeds to put a screw through the metal window frame. This operation did not seem like a very difficult thing to do, but the poor man looked like he was about to pass out after screwing in this one screw. I mean really -- he was sweating, and had to stop and catch his breath. Now I don't know if he chose his current profession as super, but it seems to me that any person whose job it is to do such things should not be close to physical failure after screwing in one screw.

Either way, the screw did go in. As did the other two – all right into the metal window frame. The super was not allowed to leave until the A/C unit was verified to be working, although he did try to get away at least one more time. But in the end, the A/C unit was switched on, and the gloriously cold air did course through the apartment. And it was good. And much cooler.

Tuesday, August 22

It's 2:00 pm, Do You Know Where Your Super Is?

Finally got the A/C unit today! Even had the guy from Ace wheel it the 15 some odd blocks to the apt. Opened the box to discover that this particular unit came with no instruction manual. Now I'm a pretty handy guy, but I have to admit that trying to figure out how to get this thing installed into the open window space totally stumped me. We called Ace about the missing manual, to which the "helpful harware folks" replied with "What kind of instructions do you need? I mean, it's an A/C unit -- you turn it on, you turn it off." THANKS ACE! Very helpful indeed! So, we decided to call the building super for some help. Heck, this kind of stuff is what he's there for anyway, right? Well, Kay made the call at 2:00 pm, and was told by someone that he would be unavailable until after 6:30 pm. So, there we sat with our brand new A/C unit, no way to install it, no instructions, and no super. All in an apt that was getting hotter by the minute. Ugh.

Well, 6:30 finally rolls around, and the super was finally reached, and a visit finally scheduled. . . for 9:00 am tomorrow morning. Double-ugh. Oh well, looks like another night with the windows open. Which, by the way, I'm certain is bad for my health. I've been coughing while walking around outside and whenever I'm near an open window. And today I noticed that the window sill behind the curtains is covered with a fine layer of black soot. That can't be good. Ah, New York City. All I know is I can't wait until we get that A/C unit installed tomorrow.

Monday, August 21

Snitches Get Stitches

"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside." I've often wodered about the meaning of those immortal words from The Who, but they could most definitely habe been written about this city. Walking the streets of NY, one is bombarded by the personal statements of hundreds of individuals. T-shirts proclaim the politics, religion, or particular brand of humor of their wearers. One such shirt on a man in Washington Square Park made the statement that is the title of this entry. Apparently he doesn't like anybody else knowing his business.

We managed to get Kay's brother to the airport on time todayafter stopping at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn for NYC's best pizza and some Brooklyn Lager. After that, we got a little shopping done while on a search for an A/C unit for the stifling apt. Found an Ace Hardware, but had to order the A/C unit, which is due in tomorrow. After that, got some more work done organizing the apt. Dinner was at Ryan's Irish Pub, just down around the corner. Food was great, and the full-blooded Irish waitress seemed really nice. Good atmosphere too. Will definitely have to go there again.

The Moving Saga

Prepare yourself folks. This was nearly a 24-hour affair, so the story is pretty long. Trust me though, it pays off in the end. . .

- THE TRIP -

Well, in typical fashion, we left a little bit later than we had planned. Originally, we had wanted to leave around 4:00 pm and get in at about 10:00 am. Instead, we pulled the U-Haul onto the highway around 6:00 pm, with Kay's brother taking the first shift. We agreed that at least two of us should be awake at all times, so that the driver had someone to keep them company (read: awake) and so that in case they did start to get sleepy, somebody would notice. So, Kay's brother drove while Kay tried to catch up on sleep since she’d been up most of the night finishing packing. I’ve got to say, her brother was a machine. He drove for nearly 9 or 10 hours straight, through at least three gas station stops for filling up the tanks of both the U-Haul and its weary occupants, the whole time downing sugar-free Red Bulls and sundry energy-providing snacks to keep himself going, before finally giving in to say he was tired and turning the wheel over to me sometime the following morning. I downed an AMP energy drink, grabbed a second one for backup, and hopped in behind the controls.

Now everything was smooth sailing up to this point. In fact, we continued smoothly for the next few hours as well. However, all that changed somewhere near the New Jersey Turnpike. I had checked our map and was sure I knew exactly what exit to take to catch the highway that leads to said Turnpike. However, when the time came I suddenly didn’t feel so sure and asked Kay to verify it on the map. The exit was fast approaching, and she didn’t quite understand my question. In the heat of the moment, I freaked out and decided not to get off. That was a big mistake. How big you ask? Let’s just say that in order to get back to where we needed to be, we had to stop at some gas station with bathrooms that could easily be used as torture chambers in the next world war, and ended up driving through some of New Jersey’s finest backwoods farmland – on roads that were obviously never meant for something the size of a fully-loaded U-Haul. At our lovely aforementioned gas station, we asked for directions, to which three different people responded with ominous warnings of how easy it was to miss the Turnpike, each making incantations of “exit two, exit two”. Then after finally making it back to the main road, we (I) of course managed to completely miss exit two. So, after some more trekking through the NJ farmland, and some pro-style “This way to the NJ Turnpike” sign readage, we finally managed to find the famed Turnpike.

Now, I wish I could say that that was the only trouble we had on the trip. But then, this wouldn’t be a saga, now would it? After finally getting onto the Turnpike, things went well again for quite some time. Right up until we reached the Holland Tunnel. As we approached the Holland Tunnel on this particular day, there were big signs stating that it was backed up and that the Lincoln Tunnel could be used as an alternate. Not to be discouraged by these signs, we decided to see just how backed up it really was. That was a mistake. After sitting in traffic for nearly 30 minutes, we finally reached the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. At which time we were informed by a lovely toll booth attendant that trucks and other commercial vehicles are prohibited from using the Holland Tunnel and that we would need to use the Lincoln Tunnel. Beautiful. Now, the road from the Holland Tunnel to the Lincoln Tunnel is not an easy one, and is not well marked. I won’t go into details on this part, but let’s just say we almost ended up back on the New Jersey Turnpike – which we were definitely in no hurry to see again.

So, we made it to the Lincoln Tunnel and finally came through onto the island of Manhattan. YES! The home stretch. From there it was a fairly easy drive to where Kay’s apartment is located in the East Village. There were a couple of hairy moments however, due to the size of our U-Haul and especially it’s enormous mirrors (that nearly took out a parked ambulance, which was saved thanks to some quick thinking by Kay’s brother). We finally pulled up to the apartment at around 2:00 pm and had to figure out what the heck we were going to do with this behemoth of a vehicle. There was no place to park it legally, so we had no choice but to simply park it right in the middle of the street. I did manage to get it close enough to the properly parked cars so that people could get around us - albeit very carefully - but the two cars I parked in certainly weren’t going anywhere until we were done. I turned off the engine, turned on the hazard lights, and we went to work unloading everything. (btw: this is the part of the story where the “I think I broke myself” part from yesterday’s entry comes in, so in case you’re just reading for the bad parts, don’t stop yet.)

- THE UNLOADING -

We are three. The apartment is on the second floor. There is no
elevator. It is nearly 90 degrees. I have been awake for over 24
hours at this point, as has Kay’s brother. There is an entire truck full
of heavy furniture and boxes to be moved into this second floor apartment. This will not be easy.

We took turns unloading the truck, carting things to the bottom of the stairs, and carting things up the stairs, always leaving at least one person within eyeshot of the truck. Things went slowly but surely. We got most of the big stuff moved in, but we were holding off on one particular piece of furniture: a hideaway desk unit that was the heaviest thing in the truck and very awkward. I just kept looking at this thing and thinking “there is no way we’re going to get that up those stairs”. Kay’s brother on the other hand was sure we could do it, and it had come time to either go for it, or decide to leave this thing on the curb. Kay decided she wanted to keep it, so Kay’s brother and I both took a deep breath and hoisted it into the air one more time. We got it to the bottom of the stairs and set it down again to work out the logistics of how best to maneuver it up the narrow stairwell. One plan after another failed. Either we couldn’t get it up high enough, or we couldn’t turn it this way or that. With each attempt, we were exerting large amounts of energy, a commodity which at this point we were both running out of. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to keep going at this for very much longer. So we came up with one last plan of attack, and I mustered every last bit of strength I had and quite literally put my back into it. It was at this point that my body gave out on me.

Now exhaustion is something that comes on slowly and unexpectedly. Like someone siphoning gas out of your tank a little at a time. You don’t realize you’ve been losing fuel until – wham! – you hit the gas pedal and instead of surging, the engine just dies. That’s basically what happened to me. I slammed it to the floor, and the bottom fell out. I was lifting this desk with all my might, and one of my arms gave way, and I had to drop the thing. I told Kay’s brother that it wasn’t going anywhere, and that I could do no more. We pushed it out of the way of the stairs, and that is where it stayed. I went outside and had to take a break for a while to regain my strength. Kay was very concerned, and refused to let me do any more of the extremely physical labor. She took great care of me and had nursed me back to health in a matter of minutes. At that point I assumed the permanent role of bringing items from the back of the truck to the front for others to move. Luckily enough, we were nearly done and finished up very shortly thereafter. All-in-all, it took us nearly four hours to get everything out of that truck.

And no sooner had we taken the last thing out than another moving truck came up the street, which had no chance of squeezing by our truck. So, I hopped in the cab and turned the key, only to be met by nothing; no action, no sound; not even the sound of the hazard lights clicking on and off. It would seem that I wasn’t the only thing that had become exhausted during our moving time; so did the U-Haul’s battery. And there I sat, with traffic backing up behind me on a street in New York City; and the honking began. I jumped out and rushed to the other truck’s driver and asked if he had any jumper cables. And that’s when it happened. At that moment I had my first taste of New Yorkers pulling together. Now, I know you’re thinking “come on now, it isn’t like it’s 9/11 and people are coming together to save each other or anything,” and you’re right. But within two minutes one guy had produced jumper cables, some other guy had pulled his truck around from off the side of the road, and the driver of the moving truck was helping me get the hood open. We brought that U-Haul back to life so quickly it was as if we were all in a scene from ER. Nobody asked if I needed help, they just started helping. It was truly beautiful.

So with truck revived, I circled the block, which gave the other truck time to get into it’s own out-of-the-way position. I pulled back around and picked up Kay and her brother, who had finished taking things up to the apartment, and we set off for what U-Haul insisted was the closest return center we could possibly use: right around the corner at 230th and Broadway (which for those of you not familiar with the city is in the Bronx, and about as far from the East Village as you can possibly get – and definitely not a neighborhood you would go walking around in at night by yourself).

- THE RETURN -

Long story short on the U-Haul return: we end up driving all the way up Manhattan on the FDR Parkway, which we later find out was illegal since it doesn’t allow trucks. We have trouble finding the U-Haul place, and end up going down some street where two homies are playing chess on the roof of a parked car, and 40s of OE and babies with no clothes are the norm and not the exception. Finally find the place and have to park the truck in a spot with about 2 feet of maneuvering room a la that scene in Austin Powers where he turns the golf cart around in the hallway. Then take a 30 minute subway ride back to the apartment.

- THE END -

Ahhh. And so the saga finally draws to a close. We go get some much needed food and beer and quite literally pass out as soon as we get back to the apartment. Oh, and did I mention there’s no A/C in the apartment and it’s still like 80 degrees out? Yeah. Good times. It can only go up from here, folks!

Sunday, August 20

Exhaustion

We're all moved in. I think I broke myself. Too tired to write more now. Details tomorrow. . .

Saturday, August 19

The Journey Begins

Well, we're about to take off for the big city. The U-Haul is packed full of Kay's things, and I and Kay and her brother - who was nice enough to volunteer to help with the driving and moving - are ready to go! Let me tell you, the packing was definitely not fun in the midday heat and humidity. Moving out of central Florida in the middle of Summer is not up there on my list of things I've just got to do again. But either way, we're off! Watch out New York, here we come!!! I hope the weather in the big city is much cooler and drier than it was here today. We plan to drive straight through the night and should get there right around midday, so I've got my fingers crossed. Here's hoping! The next time I write, it will be from somewhere in New York City.

Friday, August 18

The Last Day

Today was most bittersweet. My last day of work at the place that has become my second home over the last four years. Today I said "goodbye for now" to the people who have become, over those years, my second family. Words cannot describe the admiration and respect I hold for those people. From the Director - who I spent far too little time talking to, the the Managers - who's leadership and vision holds this place together, to the Supervisors - who were both friends and mentors that helped teach me the ways of business, and who have forever changed me for the better as an employee, to the men and women who served with me every day in the trenches - fighting stupidity in all its many forms; a more talented group you would be hard-pressed to find. I've worked at some pretty big corporations, and I consider this group far and away the collective best at what we all do. Thanks for four great years guys! I will miss you all, and I wish you the best in all that you set out to do!

The other bittersweet moment came later this evening when I handed over my car's keys to his new owners. You wouldn't think selling a car would be a very emotional event, but we've been through a lot over the last eight years and 143,000 miles. They say you never forget your first, but I know I'll never forget my second either. He was a good friend to me: reliable, always there when I needed him most, never asked for much in return, and always ready and willing to take off on a road trip at the drop of a hat. I will truly miss that guy. He's still got a lot of life in him too. I just hope his new owners take good care of him and treat him well. I know he'll be good to them if they do.