There’s No Place Like Home…
Disclaimer No. 1: This friend of Evil Molly is yet to abandon New York despite all its problems.
So in all my years of urban living, I’ve never been robbed. I’ve never been the victim of any significant property crime at all really. Does this make me lucky? Perhaps. I’ll even go with probably.
But all that changed when my job decided to send me deep into the scary, scary place that all of us born and bred in the metro-NY area fear: The American Heartland, or as EM would call it ‘Mer-kuh (If you grew up in or around NYC and you deny it scares you out there: You’re lying. Stop it.).
See, we all know EM likes to give New Yorkers a bad rap. Mostly, it’s the transplants that deserve it. If you came here from somewhere else the odds are higher than not (I’m calling it at 70/30) it’s because you are a narcissist or an asshole anyway and New York allows you to embrace and feed your true nature until you OD on it before she chews you up and spits you out.
But for our purposes let’s start here: By and large, the stereotype is that New Yorkers are at a minimum rude/cruel and at a maximum evil degenerates who will drink the blood of your children after they steal your wallet. And Midwesterners – they are good, friendly salt of the earth people ready to help out in a pinch.
Not so fast.
Disclaimer No. 2: If you grew up in rich, white Manhattan let us all acknowledge that there’s probably a 97/3 chance you are in fact a raging, entitled megalomaniac, possibly a psychopath, who takes pleasure in the extreme suffering of others without any help from drugs (see below) if it advances your personal interests. Hell, you might even be an investment banker. But if you grew up really working for your money in places like Queens, outer Brooklyn, Jersey, Long Island or wherever, you have the same odds (even money) as someone who was raised in the Midwest or the South as being a douche, you’re just a douchebag in a different way.
Disclaimer No. 3: Give me a crackhead over a meth head any day – but that’s an East Coast v. Midwest debate for another time.
So let’s just say that recently I found myself on a lovely little piece of ground in one of our states in the middle.
Imagine my surprise when we exit a meat-and-iceberg-lettuce-heavy meal that took all of 30 minutes to find my rental car windows smashed in with a tire iron and my overnight bag missing.
Now could this happen anywhere? Of course. Did I expect this in Nebraskowa or Kansourri? No, I did not. Was I dumb enough to leave my wallet and cell and really valuable valuables in a locked car even in a place I thought was safe? Of course not. Not where I’m from. We don’t do that shit.
But shit that’s worthless to others to steal but will cost me a shit-ton to replace? Yep. I left it (in the stupid Ford hatchback with no trunk). I had a bag of valuable equipment I had to haul into the restaurant with me, and I just couldn’t carry everything. Goodbye Rx eyeglasses, chargers for everything under the sun, house keys, (my actual – not the rental) car keys and clothes. Not to mention the first truly decent overnight bag I’ve ever had – it had the perfect amount of space, which is irreplaceable if you travel on business as much as I do.
Disclaimer No. 4: Even if you’re a low-maintenance woman, if someone steals your favorite jeans and perfectly assembled toiletry kit, you are going to be PISSED.
Since we’ve established that the theft could happen anywhere, you might be wondering what the fuck I’m on about anyway.
Disclaimer No. 5: I blame meth heads for stealing my shit, and yes I know they are arguably casualties of the shitty socioeconomic forces pulling the American economy apart at the seams.
When I walk up to the car and see the glass bashed all over the ground and my stuff having taken a walk, no one in the crowded parking lot offers to help. They gawk. Finally, a late teens blonde cheerleader type approaches me drinking her soda and greets me with a faux cheerful/friendly tone of voice.
Others just mill around watching. I’d say about 10 in all: Construction/road crew type guys, two matronly types in sensible shoes and polyester pants – in New York we might play the variant of “Gay or European” known as “Lesbian or Midwestern Mom” but given where I was my money was on Mom – two retired guys in Marine Corps caps, a family, etc.
Girl: “Oh wow. Did someone break your windows? That’s terrible. You don’t seem to be hurt. That’s good right? I’m glad it wasn’t me. I have my life in my car. I don’t know what I’d do.”
Me: “Are you serious? You’re glad it wasn’t you?” Turn away in disgust and then turn back toward crowd of seemingly “respectable” folk staring at me. “Hey, if anyone has anything we can use to sweep the glass off the seat to keep us from cutting ourselves or could give us some paper so we can write stuff down we’d really appreciate it.”
No. One. Even. Fucking. Answers. Me.
Finally, the cook (not white guy in a dirty apron who probably wouldn’t be labeled “respectable” by the people staring at me) comes out and helps us clean up and lends me his phone to call the cops back since mine stopped working, and no one offered theirs up.
Yeah I get it. I’m a stranger. But in New York, if you got mugged or got hurt and asked for help – you’d probably get it faster than that. Even from a stranger.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been carrying heavy equipment to the office door and some random dude in coveralls and Yankees cap appears to help me – without being asked or without a whole lot of phony pleasantries exchanged. Or the amount of times I’ve stopped to give tourists directions even when they are in my way walking too slow, making me late for work.
So, what have we learned? Assholes are everywhere. Even in the Heartland. And oh yeah. Some of us who live in New York, we can be decent, too.
Disclaimer No. 6: Our communication styles differ. When visiting NYC, ask us exactly what you want to know. We don’t have time for pointless chitchat. But if you need directions or can’t work the subway ticket machine we’ll probably oblige if we don’t have to hear your life story first. See above douchebag ratio and know even some of them will probably help just to speed up the line. And stop asking the guy in the $3,000 suit barking into his cell phone or the woman in Prada. The 1 percent ain’t gonna help you find Central Park. They’ll settle for your economic security and possibly the blood of your children. Ask the guy in Knicks hat with the neck tattoo instead of covering your purse. He’ll probably help you.
Disclaimer No. 7: To the young lady in the parking lot who was dumb enough to tell me you’re glad it didn’t happen to you: I have one word. Empathy. You might want to look it up. And when I see you walking through Midtown carrying your crappy headshots (We all know how you paid for those. Were they really free?) after you move here and pursue your dream as an actress/model/dancer/girl who falls too far too fast and ends up debasing yourself after the city breaks you – if you need directions to Port Authority to catch your sad little bus home in two years I will totally give them to you.
EM says: Meth is a helluva drug.