"I know you love California and you live in LA now," my friend John said when we met for lunch yesterday during my pre-Christmas NYC trip, "but there's just something so New York about you."
"What, my dark hair?" I quipped. I feel very brunette in the blonde city of Los Angeles.
He then explained it was some combination of dark hair, intelligence, and being "casually fashionable."
I laughed. The fashion sense is recent.
I also didn't feel very New Yorky. I felt very calm.
"Ma'am, you have to move!" an uppity security agent at JFK barked at me earlier today, when I was blocking the entrance to the line.
"OK, fine..." I said calmly, wondering what the fucking emergency was.
Shortly thereafter, I kept my cool in line at the gate when an entire family cut in front of me for our flight to Syracuse, without apology. "That was a very New York thing to do," I said to them, and then discovered they were actually from Florida.
It wasn't hard. I wanted to just ignore it. After all, I'd already evoked my inner New Yorker once earlier in the day. I'd decided to take a cab to the airport instead of lugging my bags and gifts back on the subway, after having dragged them from the Upper West Side to Flatiron to Greenpoint and finally to Carroll Gardens, up and down too many staircases and through too many subway turnstiles. I wanted to be in a car, even if I couldn't be the one driving.
But when I got into the backseat of the cab, the driver turned around and asked, "Do you mind paying cash so I don't have to turn on meter?"
"Well, I don't know how much I have. How much is it?"
"I charge you flat rate, it's $52."
"Well, there is no flat rate from Brooklyn, only from Manhattan," I contested.
And then he tried to argue with me, until he saw I only had $28 in cash. Then he flipped the meter on and said, "I'm going to take Atlantic all the way, if that's OK. Where are you from?"
"I lived here in New York for 14 years," I sneered. Who did he think I was?
After some cordial chatter, my driver figured out I wasn't a gullible tourist, but I didn't call him out on his attempted scam. Not even when the meter registered $45 and I swiped my credit card.
So maybe I'm not so New Yorky after all. It's just not worth it. Even if I had agreed to his fake flat rate (which I would have if it was under $45, the flat rate from Manhattan) and figured out I'd been duped, I might've foregone the $7 price difference just to spare myself the fight.
Then again, in LA, I have squabbled more than once about $5 parking fees and $0.40 untendered change.
The New Yorker
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