“You’re really easy to understand for an Australian.” – The woman I spoke to about volunteering at the Salvation Army
When we first came to New York I was a little paranoid about crime, mainly being robbed or mugged. This might seem like an afterthought to people who have lived here their entire lives, but when you grow up in a small, country town in Australia and spend your adulthood between Melbourne, a reasonably safe city, and Singapore, one of, if not the, safest city in the world, you tend to have a different view of New York, especially when, throughout your whole life, any time you turned on the TV there would always be something along the lines of NYPD Blue, CSI NY, Law & Order: SVU or any of the countless crime films set in New York. Switch over to the news and something bad had gone down that day in New York. It can get a little unsettling.
Fast forward to late June, 2015 and we were preparing to move to New York. I was both excited and a touch nervous; I was excited because you hear so many great things about New York, but at the same time I was a tad apprehensive because you encounter enough horror stories, too. We’ve traveled around quite a bit, but I had never been to the USA before we moved here. The only time I had ever felt threatened and genuinely concerned for our safety was when we were in Athens, Greece and I just hoped and prayed we wouldn’t feel that way again in New York. I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived here. If you mind your own business and don’t do stupid things like walk through Central Park in the middle of the night you shouldn’t have too many problems. I was still very cautious at the beginning, keeping my wallet in my front pocket, that type of thing, but I eventually realised it wasn’t necessary. However, there are dodgy people everywhere in the world and New York is no exception…
To recap last night’s events more accurately, let’s take it back a bit further into the day.
I’m still waiting for my employment pass to be processed, which most likely won’t be until November, so I still can’t work. However, if I were to get a job here, be it full-time or part-time, it would drastically restrict my freedom to join Anna for her conferences and mission trips. I love second-hand shops, so I decided to volunteer at a thrift store a few streets down from where we live. It always has cool stuff in there, the other people who volunteer there are really nice and it’s something to get me out of the house, so it should be some fun. I explained the traveling thing when I spoke to them, they have no problem with that whatsoever, in fact the woman I spoke to thinks it’s great and was kind of envious, and they’re going to call me next week.
After sorting all of that out I met up with Anna and some of her colleagues for their weekly Friday evening drinks and then it was time to get dinner. On this occasion we went to Desnuda for some tea-smoked oysters and two ceviche dishes, one tuna and one scallop. It was incredible, we’re definitely heading back there, that’s for sure! On Sunday and Monday nights they have $1 oysters, so I think we can fit it in tomorrow. Anna felt like dessert after Desnuda and we were across from the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, so that’s where we headed. Good choice, the ice cream there is great and I don’t really have a sweet-tooth.
It was turning into a great night and we always have fun when we sit around smoking shisha, so we decided to go to a shisha bar in the area that we had been to before, however, Anna vowed to stay awake this time. We opted to sit outside on this occasion, because it was a nice night and we were having a fantastic time there, just chatting and drinking, but we were constantly getting hassled by beggars, some with their shitty catchphrases:
“Whats the greatest city in the world? GeneroCITY! What’s the greatest nation in the world? DoNATION!”
Yeah, you can leave me alone now. That might seem cold and heartless, but if I gave something to every bum who bugged me for change I’d soon become one of them.
We eventually got chatting to the people on the table next to us, two Italian guys and a Bulgarian girl who study in New York. We had a great time with them, in fact they might even join us tonight to hopefully see Floyd Mayweather get put back in his box (although we all know that’s not going to happen). We were talking shop and having a blast when some middle-aged woman with disgusting, natty pigtails asked me for money. I said “Sorry” and turned back to our libation companions, but the woman just continued to stand there. “Just ignore her”, Anna told me, but seconds later I could feel the top of my shorts moving; She was leaning over the fence of the bar, trying to reach into my pocket! Now, I’m not a violent person, especially against women, but I snapped and threatened to break her arm if she reached over again. She tried to justify her actions by yelling at me, “Well, I can see it in your pocket!” Once everyone else worked out what was happening she had all five of us screaming at her, mostly profanities, and she tried yelling back, but you just don’t get into a screaming match with Anna, YOU WILL NOT WIN.
After she left I checked all of my pockets, nothing was missing. If she had succeeded she would’ve been disappointed anyway, because what she was trying to take from my pocket was a folded A4 sized receipt from when I posted a pair of sneakers to one of my old basketball teammates, Peter Bruce, back in Australia. I don’t think she would bother going to Staples and cancelling the delivery.
Sorry if this story has been one long anticlimax, nobody was killed or injured, no property was damaged or stolen, but it could get interesting if we see that bitch again.