Slowing Down

6 Mar


It’s true when people say New York changes you. It’s not necessarily a bad thing either. I used to be a pushover, passive, shy. Those qualities don’t thrive in this city. I’ve learned to be more straightforward, to fight for what I need/want, and to be way more outgoing.

Some of the changes are not so good, though. It’s dog-eat-dog here in a lot of ways. I miss the laid-back, friendly attitude of the West coast where people tend to co-habitate as opposed to claw over one another. It’s a lot about survival, as Jay-Z put it, “City is a pity, half of ya’ll won’t make it.” It’s tough living here, but worth it if you can do it.

I spent this last year being fairly poor. I took a substantial pay cut to become a technician as I was in “training,” only recently has this been lifted to the point where I’m  making good money once again. But I had to survive one of the world’s most expensive cities on a low salary, somehow, someway. I took lots of little jobs, in-house nail trims, cat sitting, shave-downs. I went on lots of dates mostly for the free meal (I know I’m going to hell.) When I had to mail a letter, I stole postage from the clinic. I made food laaaast. If a client bought us sandwiches. I’d cut mine into thirds and eat it for lunch three days in a row. How do I stay so slender? The old-fashioned way, by being poor. I clock into work 15 minutes early, take only a 15 minute lunch break, which adds 1/2 an hour of pay to each day. All the little things accumulate.

Things are a lot better now, and during these times, I luckily only had to dip into my savings once or twice. And I still have a bunch of lucrative side jobs that give me extra cash. One thing I do is at-home nail trims for pets for $20. Easy money and clients are more than happy to pay it to avoid the stress of taking their animals to the vet.

Today I went to do a nail trim on a cat I had never met before. I ran into work 30 minutes early to grab the clippers and go to the apartment. It was a 5th floor walk-up, and a little old lady was all smiles at the door. She welcomed me in and kept calling me Cindy even though I tried to correct her. I met her adorable cat Freddy who seemed to like me. She held him while I did the nail trim. I checked the clock and saw that I could get back to work in time to clock in 15 minutes early.

Then the lady started talking to me, offering me something to drink or eat, wanting me to play with the cat. I started getting annoyed, looking at the time, thinking about how I was losing money the longer I stayed there.

Then I had to stop. I had to pause a moment and realize I was being a true New York asshole, selfish and greedy. What is 15 minutes out of my day? How much do I really need that money? So I accepted the red Solo cup filled to the brim with orange juice and watched “Live with Kelly and Michael” for a bit. The lady was so sweet, and she quietly started telling me how she is going through a divorce and feels alone and is having hip surgery. She wiped a tear from her eye as she told me, “I’m just so happy Freddy let you trim his nails. You’re an angel.”

I laughed and told her I didn’t mind, anytime. Of all the things I could have done with those 15 minutes of my day, nothing could have been more important than that. Of all the things I do with my time, drinking orange juice and watching a morning talk show is the simplest, laziest, but to her, it was important. To me, it was important.

A lot of mornings I watch my fellow commuters shove onto the subways, elbowing each other, knocking one another over. If the train is like that, I always just stand back and wait for the next one. They come practically every 2 minutes, and the next train is always less crowded.  I think to myself, “Is that extra 2 minutes truly important to these people?” Well, call me hypocrite, because that 15 minutes this morning where I could have clocked in early was likewise inferior to becoming one little old lady’s nail-trimming angel.

Plus she slipped me an extra 5 saying, “Because Freddy thinks you’re pretty.”


2 Responses to “Slowing Down”

  1. wiseone March 7, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Freddie is right.

  2. Danguole March 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    So pretty. And nice!

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