Situation: You go to the store to get food to make dinner for some friends. They come to your house, maybe bring a bottle of wine, and everyone enjoys an evening of talking and eating the food you made.
If this was New York: You’d take a deep breath before walking out the door and going to the grocery store. The aisles are tiny and they don’t have many items, sometimes as simple as Campbell’s tomato soup. They will have six different kinds of Polish cream soda, however. You will ask someone at the store about the item you need. This person doesn’t speak English very well and directs you to the Polish cream soda. You go to three other stores looking for the ingredient. The food costs more than if you went to a cheap restaurant.
You get back to your place and put all the groceries on the couch, because you don’t have enough kitchen counter space for the groceries and prep at the same time. You spend several minutes trying to get the two-burner stove to light, because you never use it. You consider removing the Christmas decorations you are storing in the oven because they might get hot, but you don’t know where they would go, so they stay put.
After borrowing an extra chair from a neighbor, your friends start to come over. Your friend invites her boyfriend, and now there is an issue with the number of seats. Someone else is already sitting on your toilet with the door open, so you wind up standing and eating through the meal. Your friend’s boyfriend asks if anyone wants to do some coke, and you say no.
The Winter Months
Situation: The weather report says that San Francisco might get a dusting of snow today.
IF THIS WAS NEW YORK: Leaving your house is sort of like suiting up for a walk on the moon: Several layers of garments over your normal clothing, a pair of boots, some kind of hat and scarf so that minimal skin shows. You have your work shoes in your bag.
If you own a car, you will consider the merits of it’s theft. The snow plow has come through and piled more snow on top of it. You’ll need to take an hour to dig it out, and the only place to put the snow is back in the street where it came from in the first place.
There is no sidewalk shoveling by the city, so pedestrians are at the mercy of building owners to clear the walk. In many cases, no one even shovels, so your forced to follow in the footsteps of those that came before you. Frequently the path is only wide enough for one person, so you’ll sometimes be stuck waiting for people to pass before you can move on. After several days, this packed snow turns to ice and makes it even harder to walk anywhere.
The best way to combat all this is to imagine how nice it is in the summer, before it gets to be over 100 degrees daily.
Getting a Beer
Situation: The guys across the hall invite you out for a mid-week beer.
IF THIS WAS NEW YORK: You’d be asked to pick up the first round. Being a good person, you do this. Very quickly, the conversation would turn towards something very personal on your neighbors part, either about their bizarre health condition or about their complications with their trust fund or other income that means they don’t have to work a regular job. After awhile, you realize that you’re not going to have a conversation, you are just going to be talked at for several hours. At the end of the evening, you realize that you have purchased all the beer, and your neighbor has no means to pick up part of the tab. The neighbor then asks you every night if you want to go get a beer for a month afterwards. After he finally stops asking you, there is a weird tension between you both until the neighbor gets revenge by peeing on your door one night. You know it was him, but you’re kind of glad to just have the whole thing over and done.
Mass Transit Customer Service
Situation: I tried to get on BART this morning, but my Clipper Card (like a Metro Card) wasn’t working. The agent in the booth saw that I had a problem, and was waiting for me when I got to the booth with a smile on her face., she looked at the card, said it was fine, and had me try another turnstyle.
IF THIS WAS NEW YORK: I would have stood at the turnstile for a couple of seconds, trying to get it to work. Several people behind me would have sighed in anger. Then I would have to try and push past them all to get out of the turnstile. I would have had to wave my hands at the booth agent, who would have been trying to actively ignore me. The microphone wouldn’t work very well, so I would be shouting that I was having a problem with my metro card. The guy would have the volume turned up really loud on the speaker so his answers would get blasted in my face at a million decibels. Then he would begrudgingly ask to see my card. He would find that there was nothing wrong with it, look at me like I was stupid for showing it to him in the first place, and tell me to try another turnstile. The card would then still not work. I would take it back to the guy, both of us getting impatient now. The guy would then hand me an envelope and instructions to mail the card back to the MTA for a refund, and then tell me to get another card. I would miss my train while trying to get the automated machine to spit out a new card.