A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
Remember that time I wrote about how much I love the extra-early start to the holidays in New York City, and how it’s almost like we residents get some extra time built-in to enjoy before the rush? And how I was imbued with the holiday spirit and happy happy tra la la jingle bells yadda yadda? That was a long time ago. I’ve forgotten it, already.
I really was feeling jolly and good-willed, truly. And it was enhanced yesterday morning, when I discovered to great delight that my building does indeed have a trick-or-treating sign-up sheet. Huzzah! A reason for Gus to wear his Halloween hat! Thrilled to finally see some munchkins in adorable costumes at my doorstep, I rushed to the Rockefeller Center concourse in the fifteen minutes I had to grab my lunch and bought three bags of candy for the possible total of seven children who might ring my buzzer. I can’t help it. I was raised with a gut fear of running out of food.
Anyway, I dashed into the drugstore expecting to see a Halloween candy bonzanza, and was instead greeted with a display of candy canes and marshmallow Santas, as well as a veritable wall of tourists pursing the NYC-Themed Crappy Trinkets section. When I finally found the candy and made my extremely well-thought-out selection, I was then forced to wait in an egregious long, confused, and slow-moving line while the dozen or so Europeans in front of me attempted to pay for their “Top of the Rock” snow globes and license plate keychains in cash, examining each nickel and penny before carefully counting out exact change.
Okay, okay. Fine. It’s okay. This isn’t so bad. It will get so much worse. This I can handle. However, I was now left with about three minutes to buy something to eat, which were quickly devoured by more lines of confused out-of-towners attempting to order soup from the sandwich guy or chatting when they should be focusing or simply barging ahead of me as though this is France or China, where the rules of queuing up are buried somewhere along with the Ark of the Covenant.
It’s okay! It’s just soup! I am still. Jolly. Dammit.
I rushed through the passageway back to my office, coaching myself back into the holiday spirit. It’s only October 31st! I need to calm down. These good people are just enjoying our city, which I ought to enjoy. I do! I enjoy it, dammit.
That’s when I was stopped in my tracks by a German tourist attempting to take a long-range artistic photo of a shoe repair shop. Her shot spanned the width of the hallway, and she was taking great pains to get it right and no notice of the mobs of busy people held back by the invisible force field of her camera lens.
WHO IS GOING TO WANT TO LOOK AT THIS PHOTO???? I wanted to scream. But I didn’t.
MOVE IT, I’M COMING THROUGH! HOT SOUP! I wanted to yell. But I didn’t.
Instead, I stood there and waited patiently (sorta) for her to take the stupid picture. I had begun to feel my heart shrink at least half a size too small, and I knew I couldn’t let it happen. Not yet. Santa is testing me, and I’m going to hold out for as long as I can.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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