Having worked in the same neighborhood on the East Side for almost 7 years now, I see the same faces day in and day out. For anyone that’s been at their job for an extended period of time, I’m sure you know what I’m saying. But in NYC, there’s a totally different intimacy when you work in the same neighborhood for a long time. Because you’re on foot, people to people interaction is inevitable, whether it’s getting a cup of coffee or walking to the bank.
I go to the same coffee cart guy every morning. He knows my husband gets beer from this “mysterious beer guy” on the street very often. At the antique gallery next door, I know almost all the delivery guys by name. Specifically, because they used to oggle at my friends and me (pre-pregnancy of course) and I loved calling them out on it. But my favorite is lunchtime. When I’m not brownbagging it, I tend to go to the upscale soup and salad place or the deli across the street. Come 1pm, it’s always the same faces ordering the same thing from the same guys behind the counter.

But yesterday was great. I ran into this lady I see quite often. She works for the big financial company in the building next door. But despite her Banana Republic-conservative suits, there’s no mistaking that she’s straight out of Queens. With her fluorescent pink nails, to the 3 ankle bracelets on each ankle, to the leopard printed stilettos, to the very loud outdoor laugh, I’ve always had an inkling what she’d be like outside of her corporate job. Behind that suit, she was like Hilda, straight out of Ugly Betty. We’ve small-talked many times before, mostly about the weather, seeing Taye Diggs in the park or our atrocious commutes into the City. Since I’ve been bringing my lunch, I guess I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. So, when I ran into her at the deli yesterday she was beyond dumbfounded.

She looked me up and down, curled her bright red upper lip, gestured at my roundess and fanned her face. “Aren’t you hawt? It’s so hawt out theyuh. What are you doing heyuh?”
I sort of laughed and told her the same vague answer I’ve been telling the thousand other people that ask why I’m still working and commuting. I didn’t have the energy to be a snarky bitch to an almost-stranger.
“Well, I have to work. It’s a very busy time at work, not to mention, we’ve got a baby to clothe and feed.” I politely told her that next Friday would be my last day of work, in hopes that baby decides to stay put.

“Well, nawt fuh nothin’ but when I was pregnant many yeahs ago, my doctuh, she told me to stay home after my 8th month. Are you kiddin’ me? Those jerkawfs on the train, they don’t let you sit. And try gettin’ a cab? Fuhghetit. I wasn’t dealin’ with that. That was 10 yeahs ago, I can’t imagine what you’ve got to deal with now! The whole women’s lib thing? It screwed us.”

Really… you can’t make this stuff up. I just smirked, nodded and ordered my chicken souvlaki from my friend behind the counter, and listened to her continue her diatribe on why she stopped working a month before she delivered. In hopes of punctuating our conversation, I smiled and excitedly said, “Oh, well at least I’ll be done next week after I tie up loose ends and close this issue!”

Curling her red lip again and swirling her bright fingertips to her temple, she simply said, “Well, knowin’ how awwwfuhl I felt at 8 months, I just have to say, you’re f0ckin’ crazy for still bein’ here. But God bless ya, sweetie. Good luck if I don’t see ya!”

A big difference between NYers and everyone else in the world: even if they don’t know your name, without hesitation, a NYer will unapologetically tell you to your face that you’re f0cking crazy. And mean it.

I love this town.

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