where everybody knows your name

I feel like a guy. For the last two days in a row, you could have found me roaming the aisles of Home Depot. Only took two days for me to equal the total number of times I think I’ve been in Home Depot in my life, and I’m set for trip number three. I feel legit – even bought
my first drill. I’ve arrived.

The funny thing is so many people have this misconception that NYC is impersonal. That you get lost in the shuffle and no one knows your name. No one realizes when you come and go. You’re just another pair of legs strolling along the city sidewalks. But the thing is, it’s so
untrue.

In all of my living arrangements in DC and South Florida (with my recent nomadic tendencies, those are sadly numerous), I’ve never really met anyone within my complex. Occasionally I would see a face or two on multiple occasions, but never to the point of truly feeling like I had neighbors. NYC? Yeah, the first exception to that.

As I was shuffling boxes upon boxes up and down the elevator shaft, I met another new tenant. She was moving in as well, but up on the tenth floor. She spoke out to me immediately and we commiserated about the pains of peeping out behind a massive cardboard fort.

I’ve already met the lady down the hall from me. She’s a petite spry little lady who is probably in her upper 60’s. She quickly told me that she had lived in DC a couple of years as she ended up married to a gentleman who was living there. She said she was smarter though than to give up her apartment.

“Did you like DC?” she said the day I moved in.

“Sure,” I said. “The people were great and I did enjoy the city a whole lot.”

She made a face. “DC has no cultural soul.” She turned to walk away and then looked back once more to say, “And you’re really going to like NYC. If you need anything, let me know. I could be your grandmother!”

I’ve made friends with my doormen, even the one working the evening shift who had originally looked like he would be harder to win over. Even if he had to call me for the second time to ask me to stop hanging pictures last night (c’mon – it was 9:30! what time do you people go to bed?), I’ve been able to get a smile or two. Not half-bad. And I haven’t even had to bust out the baked goods yet (but oh, they will come — I think they would be especially fine candidates for my favorite chocolate covered pretzels – mmmmm).

I’ve even begun to get knowing smiles from the workers at Dunkin’ Donuts. Had great conversations with the shoe repairman, who told me to be careful with my shoes as he returned them. “Don’t wear these down now dancing with your boyfriend.” Hah. I should have told him if he saw my dance partner, please, introduce us.

So no, I don’t buy it. In a city of this many different faces, where people cram like sardines into a subway car and shuffle shoulder-to-shoulder on the sidewalks, you still have a name. And from time to time, even that person behind the counter? They just might know it.

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8 thoughts on “where everybody knows your name

  1. I would guess that New Yorkers have a sense of anonymity and, deep down, yearn to somehow carve out “being known” by certain people, like the doorman, neighbors, or others they may encounter with regularity. I have personally found New Yorkers to be very friendly, helpful and kind, especially when approached in the right context (rather than being asked to be Tour Guides during rush hour on the subway, for example).

    LJ, you’re a Southerner to the core, and you’ll have no problem befriending lots of people. I think a lot of what you’re experiencing is borne out of your own outgoing and positive attitude and willingness to reach out. You go, girl.

  2. Thanks guys… I think that’s really true, Sci. It’s nice to be able to still be yourself and people not entirely think you’re odd for that. I do still get lots of comments like “you’re not from around here, are you?”, but it’s not those rude “you have a crazy Southern accent”-type snide comments that irk me so.

    Thanks though… appreciated all the positive words (and the soon to be visits – can’t wait!)

  3. Awww……that’s sweet! That reminds me of my old neighborhood (not my current one though!)

    You are so lucky to have a doorman…..I have a bunch of hoodlums who sit in FRONT of my door, blocking me from getting in, let alone opening it for me 🙂

    But it’s okay….better things are coming and this blog is about your place, not mine 🙂

    Welcome home!

  4. I hope you get to change places soon 😦 How long have you been there? Sounds not good! Thank you though… looking forward to catching up with ya soon!

  5. I’m so glad that things are going well for you and you like where you are — and most importantly, that you feel comfortable. Great post. 🙂

  6. Thanks Zandria. I do feel comfortable! It’s great to see, since you never really know when you make a big move. I’m pleased 🙂

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