#100Days Day 1: an experience in New York

#100Days Day 1: my recent trip back to NYC

In October, I traveled back to New York for the first time since January of 2020; in other words, the first time since pre-pandemic.

(For context: I was born and raised on Long Island, just outside of NYC; I went to university there, and aside from a short six-year residency in LA, lived there all my life up until 2012 when I returned to LA)

I was fully aware that I would be coming back to a changed city; I just didn’t know how changed it had become.

The city that never sleeps does, in fact, sleep now.

I arrived late on a weeknight, checked into my hotel, and decided I needed to get a snack. I ventured out onto the streets of Manhattan at 10:30pm to find that there were very few places open. No fast food, no delis, no markets…not even a bodega.
The streets were relatively empty except for a few pedestrians, and I must have looked like a tourist the way I was scanning the skyline for the first time in years.

That was my first mistake.

An older man in an old raincoat, surgical mask dangling from one ear, approached me. He held a piece of paper in one hand.

“Now, you look like a nice lady.”

My immediate response to a compliment is to say “thank you” and smile, just like I’ve been conditioned to.

That was my second mistake.

He went on to reveal, while pointing to this sheet of paper, that he had secured a room for the night, but didn’t have adequate funds to pay for it (as he pointed to a number on this paper, which was something like $150 bucks, and showed a crumpled $20 bill in the other hand). I explained (still smiling, like an idiot) that I didn’t have any cash (the truth, I seldom carry it), and as much as I wished I could help him, I could not.

Mistake number three, in case you’re keeping count; engaging with the stranger.

He replied, “Well,” and pointed over my shoulder to an ATM inside a closed bank, “this other nice lady went into the ATM and got some money out for me, and…” (mistake #4, looking toward the bank and taking my eyes off him, very dangerous)
I cut him off then. “Oh no, I’m sorry sir, I can’t do that. I just got into town, and I don’t have any money.”
When those words escaped my lips, I thought, now you’ve done it. You’ve revealed personal information to a total stranger.
Fifth mistake.

At that moment, however, I got very, very lucky. The man pressed his lips together in defeat, made a fist as if to invite me to “pound” him (I did…#6) and said, “Thank you, you have a nice night” and we went our separate ways.

I walked up the street in the opposite direction, thinking, “you spent over ten years training in martial arts and self defense, and you let that happen?”

And why do I “seem like a nice lady?” WHY??

It’s official. LA has made me soft.

Interestingly enough, when I shared this story with my brother and sister-in-law a few days later, they both laughed in acknowledgement. My sister-in-law said, “It’s the [our family’s surname] face! I tell your brother that all the time!” My brother then went on to tell me a similar story about an incident that happened when they were vacationing in Montana, except in this scenario he was approached by a family in a Minivan who claimed to be from Dubai. Even after exchanging “as-salamu alaykum” (my younger brother is Muslim), he was still manipulated by this dude to take $250 out of an ATM. The grateful minivan driver insisted that my brother accept several strands of “family heirloom” gold that he wore; and the moment that my brother placed them on a jeweler’s counter, was asked: “so, who ripped ya off?”

I still had a great time in New York, but it was a good reminder for me to be on my guard (and do my snack shopping in the daytime).

You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

More from 30279
All posts