Friday, August 25, 2006

Nothing Done and New York Love

I had three things on my to-do list today: file for direct deposit at the Department of Education, replace my lost social security card, and buy a wedding shower gift for a friend.

As I came out of the subway in downtown Brooklyn, I noticed a chalk outline of a body on the sidewalk with some red blood-like liquid squirted over what would be the heart. I was disgusted and confused as I stepped over the "blood" and headed across the street and into the DOE building. I was directed by a very nice man to the correct office, and felt well on my way to completing my short to-do list. A few minutes later, an equally nice woman was kindly telling me that I am not able to apply for direct deposit until September.

I went back out, still in a good mood despite the fruitless one-hour journey. In the ten minutes that I had been inside, many more chalklines had been drawn. The fake blood was everywhere, along with small red placards that had statistics about deaths caused by tobacco-use. As I walked down the stairs to the subway, there was a camera team filming my feet...maybe you'll see my signature silver sandals immortalized on the upcoming tv commercial. (This was a stranger NY moment than the time my roommate and I walked down a block one night where a movie was being filmed, and a truck was filling the pavement with water so it would look like it had just rained.)

After escaping a tobacco-related death, I headed back into Queens to the Social Security office. Somewhere underground in Manhattan, a group of three older men were singing on the R train. They sang the best rendition of Stand by Me that I have ever heard. They incorporated greetings and thank-yous and little compliments into the background notes of the song, and got the attention of everyone on the train in a way that I have never seen a subway musician do. It was one of those city-moments in which you feel connected to all the people in your current contained space, i.e. the subway car. You think, "We just shared that. And we didn't even know it was coming."

Upon arriving at the social security office, I waited a suprisingly short period of time before being told that I could no longer replace my card at that office location. The man went to find me a flyer with directions to the office where I could replace my social security card. He came back with a huge stack of flyers, designed to look like oversized social security cards with directions and office hours printed on them...except not in English.

"Let's see here...Can you read Chinese?" He seemed to only be half-kidding. "No? Okay, how about Spanish. No? I have one in Italian. Oh, wait, wait, here we go. Last one that I have in English. It's your lucky day!!" The man was so funny, and I was still happy from my subway mini-concert that I didn't even feel bummed out as I left the office after yet another empty attempt to complete a task.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I forgot to stop in Manhattan to get the gift for the wedding shower. Slightly dejected, I decided to make the long walk home in the beautiful weather, eat a little bit, then head back into the city. On my way, I passed an electronics store. I have been searching for a cord to fix my DVD player, and knew that this was my moment to create some productivity for the day. I walked in and spotted the necessary cord immediately. I pulled out my debit card with probably too much gusto for such a small victory, only to be promptly told by the store owner that his machine wasn't working.

He must have seen the immediate disappointment as I was foiled once again. He offered to let me take it and pay him the next time I came in the store, something that is surprisingly common in New York. I thanked him, but declined, and went back outside for my walk. It was time to call it a day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I see that your blog was writen at 1:14 am, this means that your internet is working or your library is open very late at night or you were at a friends house. Just thinking out loud. Love Uncle Jim