New Yorkers are often considered some of the angriest, rudest, and jaded people in the country. After spending a few months here, I understand why, and almost fear that I’m becoming one of them. I realized this yesterday after a series of events caused my blood pressure to rise so high, I thought I might have a heart attack.
First, after finally thinking I had the transportation schedule down, I allowed for an hour and twenty minutes to get to my destination and got there in under a half hour. How does that happen?! It takes 2 hours on a Tuesday morning, but 30 minutes on a Monday morning? Yes, it’s less time in the awful traffic, but now I had all this extra time to walk around the city and do nothing. I shook my head thinking about the extra sleep I could have gotten, or the one more article I could have squeezed in. Instead, I sat at the Port Authority coffee shop drinking coffee and watching people be angry and rushed.
As I went down the escalator towards the subway, a man pushed through the crowd so violently, he nearly knocked down the lady in front of me. And to top it off, he turned around and shouted, “On your left, lady,” referring to the unspoken courtesy that if you want to stand on the escalator, you stand on the right, and if you want to walk, you walk on the left. I suddenly had a flash daydream, like Aly McBeal or J.D. in Scrubs, that I hauled off and punched the guy square in the face. Then the crowd cheered, hoisted me onto their shoulders, and chanted, “Down with the jerks!” Breath in, breath out. I thought of George Costanza screaming, "Serenity now!"
Then, at work before two very important (and wealthy) male clients came in, I offered to run downstairs and get refreshments for everybody while I was getting myself a bottle of water. The boss shrugged and said no thanks. And then when the two men came in a few minutes later, the scenario played out in slow motion. I fought every impulse I had as I saw it coming. “Elizabeth,” started the boss, “would you go and grab these two gentlemen….” Don’t do it. Don’t even say it. I’ll kill you. “…something to drink.” Uh huh. Girl job. I get it. Saved the little servant girl bit for when the big important men are here. In my daydream, I suddenly began to rant about women’s rights, I’m highly intelligent and educated and I don’t need to be getting you MEN something to drink. You have two legs, get it yourself. Maybe I should grab you a beer while I’m down there and bow my head in reverence when I hand it to you. I’m sorry, I thought this was America, I didn’t realize that you practiced the Japanese art of Geisha girls serving the big, strong men tea.
After I snapped out of that daydream, I managed to finish out the day. When I began my trek home, I decided to take a different train. I thought it would be quicker. What a stupid, stupid thing to think. Never take a brand new train thinking it will be quicker. First of all, I couldn’t even find the stupid station. It’s called the Wall Street Station for crying out loud, you think it’d be somewhere on WALL STREET! "Serenity now!" In my search up and down the length of Wall Street, what do I pass? None other than Tiffany and Co. I looked longingly through the window, as if I were a starving, dirty, orphan child pressing my nose against the glass door of a bakery. Then dragged my feet to the train, then to the insanely crowded bus where I had to stand the whole way home.
Yes, that day kicked my tail pretty good. And when I feel like complaining, I try to remember what Dolly Parton said, “I’m doing exactly what I always wanted to do, so how could I complain?” When I got home, there was a special package, a late birthday gift from my father-in-law and his wife. It was two beautiful, personalized coins, one with the Serenity prayer on it. “God, grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The rest of the night was fine.