Image used under a CC-license by SamPac.
So it was supposed to be an uneventful Friday evening.
I had decided that I was going to beg out of the various social engagements going on that night so that I could start packing for my big move on October 1st. Little did I know that by midnight I would be walking the streets of Manhattan, penniless, bereft of all means of communication… or that the police would come searching for me by morning.
Read on for the rest of the silly story…
So the idea was that I was going to pack for a few hours till I got tired, toss some stuff on the curb, and then go crash at my sister’s place, avoiding the loud party going on next door to me.
It was a brilliant plan, until I locked myself out of my own building.
At around 11:30pm I was putting out several garbage bags worth of stuff for collection, dressed only in my pajamas and sneakers. I remember distinctly checking my pockets to make sure I had keys as the doors slammed behind me. Hearing a familiar jingle, I proceeded to put out the garbage.
It was only when I tried to re-enter my building did I realize that I didn’t have my keys, I had my sister’s keys! After about 10 minutes of buzzing my own apartment to see if I could rouse my roommates or the only other tenant in my building, did I come to the conclusion that no one was going to come to my rescue that way. Various ninja-type solutions ran through my head, like jimmying the lock, going to the roof of the nearby building and jumping to my own rooftop, and climbing up the fire escape. These did not seem like viable options.
Instead I decided to walk the couple of miles to my sister’s place, in my pajamas.
Walking the streets of lower Manhattan after midnight is always interesting. You pass through various strata of society going through the intersecting neighborhoods of the Financial District, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, and the East Village. Teenage boys hang out in front of the 24-hour deli on their tiny stunt bikes, shouting out at any girls that walk by. Old Chinese men sit and smoke inside storefront buddhist temples. Hipsters hold their cigarettes and beers outside funky bars. Homeless people squat on sidewalks with their sad little signs and various appeals for change.
A ridiculous humvee limo rolls up and spills out giggling girls in cocktail dresses, headed into a divey club. One of them falls and they all laugh.
I pass by Katz’s Deli and ogle the hotdogs being slathered with onions and relish by one of the countermen. My pockets feel particularly empty and I realize I haven’t eaten for several hours.
Finally I get to my sister’s neighborhood in the East Village, near Tompkin’s Square Park. The police have started rousting the homeless people and the canoodling couples out of the park with loud squawks of their siren and 1,000 watt maglites. With no money, no ID, and no phone, I feel the tiniest bit of kinship with the bums and bagladies being shuffled off to parts unknown. Not too much — no "there but for the grace of God" kind of thing — but a bit more sympathy than usual.
I get to my sister’s place at around 12:30, my feet just starting to ache in my sockless sneakers. I walk in, mumble some greetings, and start to forage in her fridge for food. I’m asleep within the hour.
The next morning I find out that my considerate and somewhat protective roommates had realized I was missing and decided to call the police "just in case." An officer showed up at my place, calling several random people on my contact list, and told them that they should call if I didn’t turn up by that evening. I spent the morning texting and calling people to assure them I wasn’t dead in a gutter somewhere.
An interesting way to start the weekend.