• nyc •
They had somehow got me to agree to let the girl go to the city by herself on the train, to meet up at Grand Central Station with several friends, to shop and lark about for a day or so, and then make their way to Long Island, and after a night’s rest at the home of the parents of one of the friends, to catch the train back home. Easy peasy. Uhm, okay, good character builder, the making of memories, without us “in tow”. Sounds good, big thumbs up. What could possibly go wrong?
That was a couple of weeks ago. The day before yesterday, she left for the Big Apple. Bright lights, big city. Jealous, me? Maybe a little.
About three o’clock yesterday, we get a text. She’s having lunch at Meatballs on Stanton Street and Second, and she’s down to twenty bucks. Say what? Broke? How much did she take, I ask. “About a hundred, more than enough”, they had figured together, she and her mom. “In which century had you planned to go shopping and sightseeing in NYC, on a C note, expecting to have enough?” I ask. “I don’t see no time machine!” I opine.
Apparently, I wasn’t being very helpful. What’s needed is a miracle. “A what? No,” I suggest, “what’s needed is a wire transfer. Have her go to the Western Union after they finish with lunch,” (where we can have an infusion of funds conveniently waiting for her to pick up).
(No, it’s not a bank. Western Union. Okay, where is she now? Oh, that’s near abouts to my old stomping grounds. Within ten blocks or so, no problemo.)
“TEN BLOCKS?!!” (They might die in the snow!)
“Well, they don’t need to go to Cooper’s Union at Astor Place, it was just a suggestion.”
Google Western Union. About a hundred choices. “There’s one at around Twenty-Third and Sixth Avenue.”
“Oh, dear God! How’s she supposed to get there?!!”
“Uhm, taxi cab?”
“She only has twenty dollars between her and destitution! Be reasonable!”
(Okay, (Google) there’s an F train, or M at… Second Avenue and Houston (tell her it’s pronounced “House-Ton”, okay?)… Or at Broadway-Lafayette.)
“The subway?!! Dear God!” (Down there in the Bowels of the Sinful City?)
(Uhm, yeah. Have her ask the attendant in the booth for a free map. What do you mean, she doesn’t need one.)
“She says she is with friends who have lived in the city their entire lives,” she says. (They don’t need a map! How embarrassing.)
Come again? The fact of her friends’ supposed logistical acumen is moot, I suggest. She’s the one who needs to get to the Western Union, she’s the one who needs to know where she is, and where to go, not them. It’s called personal responsibility. It’s not magic. It’s logical.
(Yes, that again. I know, I’m hopeless. Always banging on about logic, and social responsibility, and self-reliance, all of the trivia that makes life so dull.)
Yes, I do want her to grow up, in fact, so sue me. She’s seventeen, not seven anymore. (By God, I was in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico by the age of seventeen, holding down a job, with the guns of the Coast Guard Cutter Durable bearing down on us, by then, with little between me and sudden death, except for a forged birth certificate, and a half inch of aluminum. Nevermind. It turned out fine. It was just a big misunderstanding, it turns out. It was an afternoon I shall treasure, always and forever. It was fun. But that’s beside the point. Oh, okay, enough about me.
Here we go. Everybody can agree that I was “something special” leaving home at seventeen…except, of course, for me. In any case:) It’s not a miracle. It’s just logistics. Have her pick up a map, sit down and figure it out. I believe in her. “Tell her she’s a shoo in. …a shoo in… Nevermind.”
“She can manage it. Easy peasy,” I say.
I get “the look”, I know it. I can feel it all the way from NYC. “A lot of help you are,” it seems to say.
Anyway, long story short, they manage to get to the Western Union, somehow. Now that I think of it, maybe a miracle is just what it was. How did it go? She found the Western Union “kinda sketchy”, “grungy”, and “the guy at the counter” (apparently) “wasn’t very friendly”) but, the money was, it turns out, there, just like I said it would be. So nobody died. But what was she supposed to have done, had it hadn’t been?
Two women are sitting on a subway bench. One has a grocery trolly at her feet. The other is knitting.
“Oy!” one intones, with practiced kvetching. “Oy!!” sighs the other, with alacrity.
“Alright! But, enough about the children…”
~ Tim Burchfield
• nyc •