a priori/a posteriori

Friday, August 3, 2012

Being a Good New Yorker

I could be doing more.  I could always be doing more.  All of us could.  So even though I feel like a piece of shit, I have to train myself to not feel too bad.  Because at some point, it’s not logical.  If everyone feels like shit, then there’s something wrong with how we decide whether or not to feel shitty.

It’s been a somewhat lazy two weeks.  Which sucks, because two weeks ago, I felt like I was on top of the world, and firing on all cylinders, and whatever other term means I was kicking ass.

But I didn’t blog back then.  I’m blogging right now, on a Friday, after a week where I spent more time playing apps than pretty much everything else combined.

For the sake of fairness, though, why don’t I share a story from two weeks ago, when things felt great.  I’ll tell you a story of being a good New Yorker.


The subway system in New York is pretty good, all things considered.  It’s not as clean as DC’s, but it’s open 24-7-365.  And that should count for something.

The thing that sucks is, if it’s really late at night, it’s barely open 24-7.  As in, trains are only scheduled to come once every half-hour - and that’s if they’re running on schedule.  So if you get into the subway at 2 a.m. and just miss your train, that means you’re probably going to be stuck there for another 30 minutes, waiting for the next one.  And you may still have to transfer to another train, which could mean another 30-minute wait.

Last night, my last mic ended at 2:05 in the morning.  I was at the subway station by 2:15, but I ended up waiting until 3 before my train came.  Then I waited another 20 minutes to transfer to the train that goes by my house.  And so even though my night ended at 2:05, I didn’t get back to my apartment until almost 4 in the morning.

Some nights, you luck out.  Some nights, you don’t.

That’s backstory, so that you understand.  Because I was getting home from a mic two weeks ago, late. Maybe 2 or 3 in the morning.  I forget.

And as I left the subway, I saw a lady running down the steps, trying to catch the train.  She was running, but she wasn’t going to make it, which meant another 30 minutes of waiting before she could even start heading to wherever she was going.

So instead of leaving right away, I just kind of lingered by the train.  And when the doors of the train started closing, I just stuck my arm back into the train.  And I just held it there.  And as subway doors do, they re-opened, and then tried to re-close.  And so they kind of closed on my arm again, but because they couldn’t close all the way, they opened back up and tried again.

Before the doors could try to close a third time, the woman had made it down the stairs, and she slid through the doors, and onto the train.

Then I kind of waved to the train conductor guy, as I started up the stairs.  I meant it in a “nothing personal” kind of way.  But he could have easily seen it in a “Chalk up another one for the 99 percent, asshole!” kind of way.

Then again, at 3 in the morning, it’s quite possible he didn’t give a shit either way.

But that lady definitely did.  I’ll never see her again.  But I saved her a half-hour.  If you don’t live in New York, just trust me:  in that moment, that means something.  That half-hour is the difference between a good mood and a bad mood.  Between a good night and a bad night, sometimes.

More often, it’s the difference between a good next day and a bad next day.  I’m telling you - it’s huge.

When I first moved here, I wouldn’t have done that.  I wouldn’t have known I was allowed to do that.  I would have felt like it’s not my place, or that I might get my arm chopped off.  Or one of those other hundred reasons we don’t do a cool thing, in the exact moment when we have the chance.  Because we just think about it too much.  And then we spend the next ten minutes regretting that we didn’t just do it.

I didn’t think about it.  I just stuck my arm in, took a few shots for the team, and sent that lady on her way.

That’s when you’re kicking ass at New York.  It’s just like stand-up, or improv, or anything else:  you learn the rules, so you know when to break them.  When you stop thinking so damn much, you start really kicking ass.

I’m becoming a better stand-up comic.  Which is helping make me a better New Yorker.  Which is helping make me a better person.

It’s very hot today.

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