I came into Manhattan one Friday morning praying for an easy day.
Now to be honest, I pray for an easy day every single morning of my life, but I was feeling especially miserable on this day and all I wanted to do was refill my Metrocard, get to work, and live to see the weekend.
Was that so much to ask? Funny you should ask...
I bounced off my bus and hopped down the stairs of the Courtland Street R station to beef up my Metrocard.
It’s quite simple, really. Just slip your card into one of the vending machines, tap out the desired amount, and then pay for it.
The first two steps went fine, but when I attempted to dip my credit card into the pay slot I found that the pathway was obstructed and I rang up a No Sale.
No problem, I thought as I cancelled the transaction. I’ll just use the other machine they’ve got here and then head for the office. It was a can of corn, as my father would’ve said.
But the first machine’s affliction was apparently contagious and my credit card wouldn’t work on the second one either.
And then I got a little upset.
“This city sucks!” I screeched to the heavens. “This city fucking sucks!”
Okay, perhaps I could’ve handled that a little better.
Condemning an entire municipality and all of its inhabitants over some defective devices does seem like a bit of an overreaction. But my nerves were awfully twisted that morning.
When I finally put my head back on my shoulders, I walked to the end of the station, filled up my card at a different machine and made it to work on time without cursing at any other inanimate objects.
The day went by, the wretched memory faded, and I made plans to attend a free concert at the World Financial Center after work.
Now for some reason the concert didn’t come off. I saw the artist talking with some stagehands but there was a serious lack of music and I couldn’t get a straight answer out of the one twit whom I had approached.
But, unlike the subway station debacle, I didn’t lose my crackers this time. I just was feeling too damn good. It was Friday, a beautiful summer night, and I was right by the water in the greatest city in the world.
I was already in the middle of an open-air concert.
The World Financial Center is a beautiful facility, filled with all kinds of stores and shops and it was crammed people from all over the planet walking, talking and enjoying life.
I strolled through the food court as if it belonged to me, smiling and taking in all that crazy energy.
“Ah, New York City,” I said. “There’s no other place like it in the world.”
And then I recalled the bug-eyed lunatic howling in the train station just a few hours earlier, the one that looked an awful lot like me. What had happened to that guy?
There’s no excuse for my behavior that morning, twisted nerves notwithstanding. New York can make you crazy—if you let it. It’s crowded, noisy, and people aren’t always showing the love like they should, myself included.
But, to borrow a phrase from Mark Twain, if you don’t like what’s going on in New York, wait a minute. Something funky is bound to happen.
And now that summer is drawing to a close and I’m already dreading the coming cold weather, I deeply appreciate how special that night was, even though nothing really special happened.
New York has so much to offer and it’s all out there waiting to be experienced.
Just make sure you fill up your Metrocard.