Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Homeless

I used to think I saw homeless people all the time in OKC.  I would say on average I saw somebody on the streets maybe once a week.  Maybe.  Of course, that was OKC and this is NYC.  Now, if there is a day when I don’t see a homeless person, it’s because I didn’t leave my apartment that day.  If a day goes by where I only see ONE homeless person, it’s because I got 100 feet outside of my apartment and decided to go back and stay inside the rest of the day. 

That being said, here are some truths I’ve learned about homeless people.

1) They have names.  This one for me is the hardest to come to grips with.  It’s easy to keep going when it’s “The guy on Penn with the sign” or “Corner guy on Broadway”.  When you find out that his name is Javier or Kevin and realize that somebody named him long before he became a homeless guy on the corner, that’s when you have to actually reevaluate life.

2) Very patient.  It makes sense, I mean, they have nothing to do?  It’s hard to imagine a patient person in this city sometimes but they find a way to do it.

3) Humble.  They don’t care if you ignore them, they don’t care if they beg their hearts out and you turn a cold shoulder, they probably wouldn’t even care if you threw your shoulder into them walking by.  Actually, the only times I’ve EVER heard “have a nice day” in the city of New York (outside of church) is from the homeless guy outside of the corner store every time someone walks by him. 

4) They do stuff other than beg.  This is a new revelation actually.  I talk to this guy probably every other day that sits on the corner and I just recently found out that he plays tackle football in the park.  “Gotta show these young kids what’s up!”  Kind of embarrassed that I don’t know his name yet, but I’m sure I will soon.

There are more things I’ve learned but I’ll stop there.  Basically, I just want to say that if you don’t know a homeless person, you’re missing out.  If you’re moving here soon, here’s the deal…you’ve got no reason to fear the homeless, trust me.  And don’t be afraid to step out a little, I promise it’ll be worth it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Survival Tips

I’ve got two survival tips for people moving to NYC.  Honestly, these might be the most useful things to know if you are planning on living here.

First, carry cash.  Yes, you can get by with carrying a card, but trust me, you won’t be happy.  One day you’ll be standing in a line about 5000 people long waiting to buy some overpriced Panini so you can get to the class you’re already late for and find out that they only do cash when you get to the front.  Actually, more often than not it’s the $10-15 limit policy and in that case you just throw in some Pop chips and a soda and be on your way, but still.  I can hear my mom in the background right now, “Leighton, you’re gonna get mugged one day and have all that cash on you!”  Here’s the deal about muggings.  They’re like sunburns.  If you take proper precautions, you’ll be fine.  Wear spf 2.5 (*Emily*) or walk the streets at AM:30 and you take your chances.

Second, if it’s past 11PM, just suck it up and take the cab.  ESPECIALLY on the weekends.  I don’t know what the actual stats are, but I would say you have about a 75% chance of your bus/subway either not running or not stopping at your stop on the weekends.  Seriously, go out on the weekends and just say a prayer early about transportation home.  With that being said, if you find yourself thinking, I’ll just wait for the bus and it happens to be post 11PM, just step out into the street and signal for the cab.  Otherwise, here’s what’s going to end up happening.  First, you’re going to stand for about 30 min in the freezing cold waiting for your bus only to find out that it’s not running.  Shocker.  So then you’re going to take a wild stab at where you think the subway line is and go try to find it.  Once you get there you’ll look at a map and kick yourself for how many stations you passed on the way to this one.  You’ll board and ride all the way downtown, which is a good 3 miles out of the way only to find that the subway you now need that takes you to your actual subway home is also not running.  Shocker.  At this point you’ll give up and actually get the cab and pay him to drive you back the three miles you just came on the subway.  So again, if it’s past 11PM just take the cab.