Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Friday, Mr. Cockroach!

If anyone had told me prior to living in NYC that I would be forced to kill the caliber of bugs that I have killed, I would have laughed in their face.  Prior to 2007, I considered a spider the most menacing foe in the insect library.  While those 8 legged creepers still know how to paralyze me with fear, they aren't anything compared to the bug repertoire I've encountered in the Big Apple (think Arachnophobia, but on a Godzilla sized scale) …. gross.

Last Friday at work, all of the sudden I heard commotion coming from down the hallway only to discover that a cunning cockroach had decided to come out to play this Friday.  (Please note, this was not the first cockroach in my new office .... that my friends is a whole other story).  People started messing with it and trying to get it to go in certain directions while I sat perplexed and disgusted.  The moment I had enough composure to speak, my first utterance was “WELL SOMEONE KILL THE THING ALREADY!”  Everyone looked up and must have seen the crazy written all over my face.  But that wasn't enough for them to condone murder on this Friday.  Suddenly the group dispersed and the cockroach went on his dandy way walking that hallway as though he owned the place.

Was I hallucinating?!  Were my colleagues truly at a place in their NYC lives that they were willing to just pass a cockroach, play with it for a minute or so and then keep on walking.  BLASPHEMY!

Despite my outrage, I was clearly not going to man up and kill it myself.  I willed the cockroach to do something to prompt someone else to kill it, but alas he just darted into someone’s empty office instead.  My mind was going a mile a minute ….

(inside the OCD mind) “That cockroach is probably in there plotting.  I bet you he knows what I’m thinking and is going to dart out of that office and beeline right towards me.  And now I can’t go to the bathroom because he’s right in my path.  Oh mylanta, how will I pee?  Alright first things first, I need to stop drinking water ASAP because there is no peeing here ever again.  And now I can never go down that hallway.  Ugh, that might make this job a wee bit trickier but I suppose I can find ways to be resourceful.  Come on cockroach, do something bold, act a fool, it’s gotta be in your nature …. be the darty little menace that I KNOW is in there!”

Being a cockroach and all, he clearly didn't disappoint.  Next thing I knew he was outta that office and terrorizing another cubicle.  A group of guys was coming back from getting lunch and were asking why so many people were surrounding their desks.  My cube mate had also gone over to see what was happening.  All of the sudden out of a mountain of binders the cockroach that could RAN out realizing that this may very well be his last chance to go on living his cockroach life.  With lunch bag in hand, one of the guys stomped Mr. Cockroach and the nightmare was over (insert sigh of relief here).

My cube mate made his way back to our area and I immediately asked for all the details.  I don’t know why, but for some reason, knowing the play by play always helps me feel better about buggy situations.  He told me everything step by step, proudly noting that he was the one who picked up the smushed cockroach and threw it away.  Hold up …. I was immediately repulsed and more importantly, “Ahhhh did you just touch my desk with those hands, GO WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY.”  Knowing how crazy I am, he naturally obliged.  (Sidebar, are men born with a gene that women don’t have where particularly gross things just don’t bother them?  There would not be enough hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes in the world to make me feel clean again after only having a paper towel barrier between me and a cockroach.)

Once my coworker got back from washing his hands I was finally able to rest my mind and go back to the task at hand.  I needed more details on what happened.  He told me the guy killed it by smushing it with his shoe.  I immediately panicked again.

Me: “Smushing a cockroach is the worst way to kill it because then it spits its baby sack out!  Hence why cockroaches always survive!  They have the perfect defense mechanism!”
Coworker: “How do you know so much about cockroaches?”
Me: “Know thy enemy ….”

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My First NYC 'Boyfriend'

His name was Eddie.  We met when I moved to NYC and things escalated quickly.  We talked almost every day and he soon began staying overnight.  We even had nicknames for each other.  He lovingly referred to me as “f$cking whore.”

Let me explain.  Eddie was the homeless man that lived in the small space between the front door to my building and the locked door that led to the apartments.  Each night he set up shop in this super small space and snuggled with the mail boxes (there was an occasion where I found him tucked in with his homeless lady friend, but that my friends is a whole other story).   My affectionate nickname for him was homeless man.  Hey, I am from the burbs so I never had to deal with things like this before, so cut me some slack!

Homeless man was not your typical homeless man.  Whereas others will typically ask for money and call it a day, my homeless man didn't give up there.  He liked a good fight.  I would often come home after a long day at work and find him drunk and angry sleeping in the stoop .... typical homeless man.

Me: “Homeless man, get up!”
Homeless man: “You’re a f$cking whore!  Leave me alone!”
Me: “Uh homeless man, I can’t leave you alone, I need to get into my building!!!!  NOW MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!”

My threat was clearly hollow as he had nothing to lose.  This was inevitably the point when homeless man would get really angry and try and hit me with his cane.  Lucky for me, he was usually too drunk to have any semblance of good aim.  When he would refuse to move, I would have to channel my inner Gail Devers (please note, I chose her out of all of the famous hurdlers due to her fly nails, which naturally makes me akin to her) and jump over him.  Much like my hurdling counterparts, I needed to ensure that I didn't hit that hurdle (homeless man) or I could fall (potentially touch homeless man …. gross).

There was a rare occasion when homeless man would throw in the towel early, retire the cane as a weapon and instead use it to stand up and leave the stoop area.   In these moments, I started to see the softer side of homeless man.  But then he’d whip out a “f$cking whore” and I was suddenly thrust back into reality. 

The funny thing is, it never bothered me that he called me f$cking whore.  In fact, every time he said it, I couldn't help but smirk.  I imagine it’s what a parent feels like when their kid says something completely inappropriate but also completely amazing, and even though they’re mad, they can’t help but smile.

My favorite encounter with homeless man was from New Years Eve many years ago.  It went as follows:

Me: “Happy New Year homeless man!”
Homeless Man: “Happy New Year you f$cking whore!”

In case it isn't clear, we had a really strong connection ….

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Subway Games

Sometimes I see how fast I can get the F outta of the subway in a little game I like to call: The Subway Games.

It starts the second you hear that robotic voice, “The …. next …. stop …. is …. 14th…. Street …. Union .... Square….” …. iPod, check! Shiv …. uhhhh I mean purse, check! Jacket zippered, check! Game on bitches!

Doors open and your first obstacle is making sure that damn gap is filled! I’m no fool, I saw that episode of Homicide: Life on the Streets where Vincent D'Onofrio gets smushed between the platform and the subway car and dies. With that haunting visual in mind, I sometimes do a little hop to ensure that I've cleared any potential gappage, because in the Subway Games, you can’t be too careful. 

Your next obstacle is invariably getting past all your fellow subway riders who are just looking to trip you up any which way. You know who I’m talking about, the oblivious girl with so many bags she may as well be a family of 5 walking up those stairs, or the hipster who is far more concerned with which Lumineers song is coming up next on his iPod than he is with paying attention to his fellow subway tributes. Think Mario Kart: Moo Moo Farm, you’re Wario and those subway fools are the moles. Don’t touch them or you’ll spin out of control and lose valuable seconds. 

Now that you’re on the platform it’s onto the stairs …. those damn stairs. Never once have I gone up them without some idiot careening down the other side yelling with all their might, “HOLD THE TRAIN!” This just in crazy, have you ever met the conductors? They’ll close the door on a baby without batting an eyelash and have even taken off with the baby stroller still stuck in the door (no seriously, YouTube it). Do you truly think they’re going to stop for you ….

But no matter what the obstacle, don’t worry, you’re a Wario, you’re a gonna win this Subway Game. I then sprint up the escalator on the left hand side and give myself bonus points for every person I pass without touching (in the Hunger Games I imagine this would equate to finding a squirrel for dinner).

The trickiest moment is when you finally start to feel that “fresh” air (please note, the use of quotations here is pivotal as you must remember that you are still not out) and you suddenly imagine what Andy Dufrense must have felt like after bouncing from Shawshank. FREEDOM I CAN ALMOST TASTE YOU! But you, much like Andy, still have some shit to get through first.

The turnstile is your last foe. OCD sidebar: I like to stick to the same turnstile every time I ride the subway. I go in on the 7 turnstile in the morning and exit on the 2 turnstile each night. Sometimes, if someone is really slow and gets tripped up while going through my turnstile, I'll pretend that I'm also tripped up looking for something in my purse so the people around me don’t question why I just don’t go through one of the other open turnstiles. I just like 7 and 2, ok. I scoped them out on day one and they looked the cleanest, but that is neither here nor there …. don’t judge me.

Now back to the turnstile: you have to touch it, unfortunately that is a non-negotiable. So instead I see if I can go through without having that awkward embrace with a stranger on the other side who is trying to come in while I go out. I give this stranger my, “Uh I’m playing the Subway Games fool, so you best move aside” eyes and that usually does the trick.

The last set of stairs can sometimes make your heart sink and your thighs may or may not be starting to burn for those last few steps, but unless you want a tribute mutant to knock you down in the home stretch, you suck it up and you get the F outta the subway.

There is one important thing to note. Yes, you are now free, but in my version of the Subway Games, we are all losers …. a hard lesson that even Katniss had to learn. Why, you ask? Well, it’s because there are no winners on the subway, only people who need to go home and take a shower.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

“Welcome Back Kelly!”

As you can imagine, this is every OCD person’s nightmare, so this is the first of many posts about my arch nemesis, the NYC subway system.

Subway: "Welcome Back Kelly!"
Kelly: "Gross."
After a year of roughing it and taking the subway to work every day, I decided I needed to take action, so I moved into Manhattan and found an apartment a convenient 20 blocks from my job.  Walk to work, don’t mind if I do, and what a glorious 4 years those were!  Things were so great in fact, at one point I made an internal declaration that I would never get a job that I couldn't walk to, thus eliminating the lower half of Manhattan.  But then one day in 2012, an opportunity presented itself that I couldn't pass up, but it meant my commute would now consist of a 20 minute subway ride down to the Financial District …. gross.

My first day on the subway was probably the worst.  It was a hot July day and I had straightened my hair to look fly for my first day at the new job.  (Sidebar, I have curly hair, so let’s just say by the time I got to work, it was a hot mess and my building photo ID is proof)

While standing on the platform waiting for the 4/5 I saw two sewer rats that I swear whispered “Welcome Back Kelly!” before scurrying back into the filth.  It was like I was the Cinderella of the NYC subway, but that subway car was no carriage and the men waiting on the train for me were no Prince Charming.  But alas, my carriage awaited and it was off to the Financial District! 

My internal dialogue on the subway my first day back went something like this:

“Why is it so hot …. seriously, I can feel my hair frizzing ……….. ugh gross, please don’t touch me gross looking person ……. please, please, please, please, please, please, PLEASE back away Grosso McGee ……………………….. grrrrreat thanks for touching me with your sticky sweat jerk, I have enough of my own sweat thank you very much ………........... ok, come on Kelly, you got this, millions of New Yorkers do this on a daily basis ………........ oh mylanta what is that smell  ………………. oh fabulous, a homeless person, I guess it was just a matter of time ……..  ughhhh I wonder how long I can hold my breath for before I pass out …………………….. WHAT! delay due to train traffic, you have GOT to be shitting me, you fools are still pulling this crap ……..”

20 minutes never felt so long, for me or my hair.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Early Years (Pre-OCD)

My first year in the city I was bushy tailed and bright eyed and didn't have half of the stigmas that I have since acquired.  Boy did that change quickly!  I've tripped on homeless people, seen sewer rats on the streets that would make a jungle animal cower in fear and been touched by people on the subway who look like they haven’t showered in days, if ever.  But for those living in NYC, we call this a typical Tuesday.

I literally come to work every day screaming, “You are never going to believe what happened on the subway today!” and I feel like everyone always responds with “This stuff only happens to you!”  Seriously, of all people, why me!  Please note, I sometimes have to wash my hands just thinking about something gross that I've seen!  This crazy notion then prompted me to Google OCD one day, and turns out 'compulsive washing of the hands' is a key trait …. damnit!  Hi my name is Kelly, and there's a good chance NYC gave me OCD.

Greetings, no hand shake required!

I was never a germaphobe ….that is until I moved to NYC.  These streets may make you feel brand new as Alicia Keys so eloquently sang, but they will also make you feel like you need to shower every five minutes.  Whether it’s building juice dripping on your head (you know that unidentifiable substance that comes from who knows where, and drips right on your good hair day) or the sight of watching someone urinate in front of you, I can’t help but feel dirty all the time.  I went from going through a bottle of hand sanitizer per week, to a bottle per morning commute.

This blog is dedicated to the gross things that I am so disgustingly privy to seeing on a daily basis in the one and only NYC.  And while I am not clinically diagnosed with OCD, there’s a 99.9% chance I definitely have it (you be the judge)!