You Got The Wrong Bell B*%@#


I was warned.  I should have been prepared.  I had heard countless tales of just how rude some New Yorkers could be.  But I didn’t listen.  I still came to NYC bright-eyed, bushy tailed and painfully naive.

In my defense, I grew up in Upstate NY.  I was born in Florida, but raised in Rochester from the age of seven.  It was by no means rural, but there was still a small town mentality.  People often said hello to each other and seemed to care about their neighbors (or at the very least, knew their names).  So I was in for a bit of culture shock when I moved here.

First of all, I quickly learned that there is a required pace for walking.  I was clearly not meeting the approved miles per min.  I often got pushed and almost tripped several times while navigating my way through the concrete jungle known as “the city” (Manhattan).  The worst experience was one day at 34th Street/Herald Square when the light turned green and (no exaggeration) 300 people came towards me (ok, slight exaggeration).  I barely made it across the street!

I also realized that eye contact was not always welcomed, nor beneficial.  Apparently looking at certain people for too long (3+ seconds) meant that I wanted to either fight them or… Once, I smiled at an older man and he smiled back at me, then licked his lips and winked.  Ummm.  NO.

Then there was the time I was on the train and sat across from a sleeping man.  Midway into my ride, the train jerked and he woke up.  That’s when I realized that he was very disheveled (and smelly).  Well, he must not have wanted anyone near him, because he took out a box cutter and threatened me and the woman sitting next to me.  We got up and ran to the other end of the car.  SMH.

Needless to say, I mastered the wog (walk & jog) pace (was the one pushing now, old ladies beware!); started to bring a book on the train; and became aware that empty seats (or train cars) were sometimes too good to be true.  I figured I was now armed and ready to live out my days like a native New Yorker.

But one night I got invited to an event at a friend of a friend’s apt in the city.  I got to the address and realized that there was more than one doorbell.  I wasn’t sure which floor the apt was on, so I guessed.  Bad idea.  A woman’s voice came over the intercom and asked very sternly “Who is it?!”  I answered that I was looking for…

Before I could even finish my sentence, she yelled out “You got the wrong bell b*%@#!!!”  I stood on the stoop with my jaw dropped.  What had I done to deserve that?  She didn’t even know me.  So I rang her bell again to give her a piece of my mind.  With all the venom I could muster, I said, “That was not nice!”  She retorted (insert several bleeps).

I called my friend and asked her which apt it was.  Turns out, I was at the wrong building.  Sigh.

Welp, I am still here, over a decade later.  So either I am a glutton for punishment, or I actually like the unpredictable nature of the characters I come across on a daily basis…B. Final answer.

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