Sunday, March 13, 2011


On Friday night, you make plans to go out with your lady friend, as both of your boyfriends were going to be detained at that work thing. Spin class, dinner and a movie, on the calendar.

But she's not feeling well and unfortunately, the evening falls through. So you go to spin anyway, and afterwards, pause in the subway tunnel. Downtown to Brooklyn, or uptown, to a solo movie adventure? You hesitate for only a minute; you can hear the uptown train charging in. Uptown it is.

You switch trains at West 4 St and catch the blue line back down to lower Manhattan. Three short stops later, you surface in TriBeCa, sure-footed and resolved to catch the earlier showing. You deftly make your way through TriBeCa to Battery Park City, pausing only briefly to stare at the Freedom Towers' progress before continuing on to the theater, determined not to let the night get away.

But you've remembered incorrectly, and missed the earlier showing by almost an hour. So you shove disappointment aside and purchase a ticket for a girly thriller, and a small popcorn, please. You almost never see the girly flicks anymore; maybe it will be fun.

But it's not fun, it's just dumb. Super dumb, and poorly written. The popcorn is stale and gives you a stomachache. And you're all alone in New York City on a Friday night, in a sea of strangers.

Annoyed and fully disappointed, you start to walk back to the train. You put on your very best jaded New Yorker face and pick up the pace, shouldering through crowds and rolling your eyes in disgust at slow-moving awestruck tourists. If they would just, PLEASE, get out of the damn way.

At the next intersection, a yellow taxi pulls up and honks, twice. You were going to take the train, but for some reason, you decide to get in. Seated and situated, you give your destination, bracing yourself for "No Brooklyn! No Brooklyn!" and a kick out the door.

But it doesn't come.

"Where in DUMBO, ma'am?" instead, with a thick New York accent, the kind that makes you think of the Godfather and pizza by the slice.
"Water at Adams, please."
"Yes ma'am, sure thing."

You notice that unlike most cab drivers, he's younger, clean cut and polite. He drives quickly, but carefully. The car is old and worn, but is clean and smells pleasant, like old leather. It's comfortable and warm.

"You can take either bridge; usually less traffic on the Manhattan," you offer, as most cab drivers don't seem to know the way to Brooklyn, as ridiculous as that seems.
"If you don't mind, ma'am, I'll take the Brooklyn, and the tunnel to get there. I promise you, it'll be much quicker."

Surprised, you murmur your agreement, and sit back to enjoy the silence. You loop up and down and around and below lower Manhattan before sure enough, being spit out on the Brooklyn Bridge, where there's no traffic at all.

"The first exit, please, and then turn right."
"Of course. I'll actually take the second right, if that's alright with you. I've got a shortcut."

Again shocked, you go with it, and somehow it's definitely faster. Despite being trained by cabbie after cabbie to give explicit directions, you fall silent for the remainder of the trip. He navigates the neighborhood expertly before pulling up right in front of your door, unfazed by the cobbled road and excessive construction.

"This is probably it then, ma'am?"
"Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much!"

He laughs at your delight and offers to write down his shortcuts for you. You smile and thank him, saying you'll remember; it won't be necessary.

"I'm a born and bred New Yorker, ma'am, and I know every inch of this city as if I drew it myself. It's in my best interest to provide the very best service to my customers, which means finding and knowing the quickest, best routes. I hope you enjoyed your trip, and have a very good night."

You did have a very good night, actually. 

You smile again and tip him heavily, not caring whether his politeness was a gimmick. He waits to make sure you get inside safely, and you turn back and wave before slipping into the building as another couple hails him down.

The door closes behind you and you realize that your stomach-ache has disappeared. And you suspect that the whole "jaded New Yorker" thing is nothing more than something people made up as a scapegoat for their own bad moods.

You'll try to remember that, the next time.


  1. perfectly written, per usual. A great read. Enjoy your Sunday!

  2. such beautiful, refreshing and enchanting writing you produce. thank you for that.

  3. Very fun! I like reading little slivers of your New York life :)

  4. thanks Ry! you need to come visit, soon!

  5. Hey Jen,
    Powerful prose, Jen.

    We - my wife and my two boys - were going to come to NY for Spring Break, but we really don't even know where to start. So, we aren't.
    Maybe next time you could help out an old (meaning former) English teacher with some tips about visiting NYC.
    Mr. George

  6. Thanks Mr. George! And yes, definitely let me know if you are thinking of visiting and I will try to suggest some things. Let me know!