I awoke at seven a.m. to my phone buzzing loudly against my window sill. The washer and dryer repairman was outside at my door waiting to get in. My apartment buzzer was broken, along with the handle to the washer and dryer, and my ability to intuitively wake from slumber at the arrival of washer and dryer repairmen. The guy pushed through the front doors, incredulous that I hadn’t been more prompt in my greeting. I let him in and showed him the washer and dryer, asking if I could get him anything. Perhaps a burp cloth and a diaper change? He gave me detailed instructions on how to use the washer and dryer, while I stood near, watching and listening, half asleep.
“Ok, that’s $144.” He said wrapping up.
“Sorry, what? I’m paying for this?” I asked, unaware.
Fueling his just simmering frustration for the day, he continued to unwind and called Susan, whose apparent job was to manage his tantrums. Susan however, was already boiling, yelling accusations at my landlord, Shawna, loudly over the other end of the phone. While we waited for Susan to gather up all her fury and unleash it on Shawna on a private phone call, the repairman and I stood stiffly in my empty apartment. With not much to look at but an air mattress and a shower curtain, the repairman looked bleakly around for something to criticize.
“Who cut your molding? Stevie Wonder?” He asked, pointing to the unruly gap between the counter and an abruptly cut piece of molding.
Arriving roughly to a point of clarity, I decided to distance myself from the spitting anger and hate ritual that Repairman and Susan had been practicing over the years. I agreed to pay for it, knowing that Shawna had a similar frequency of patience and would happily reimburse me for the confusion. We agreed that If it was cold, turn up the heat. If the washer handle was broken, fix it. Then share a laugh about the simplicity of it all, which we later did.
I walked over to the diner across the street, utilizing their ATM and coffee providing services. I calmly walked back with my large coffee and wad of cash to Repairman, pacing outside by his truck, anticipating world collapse.
Trying to extend thanks in the only way he knew possible, he said, “Can you believe that? Welcome, to New York,” still railing on my landlord.
Ignoring that fact that I was hardly new to New York, now in my tenth year, I asked him instead, “Have you ever met Shawna?”
Caught off-guard, he fumbled his words while counting my money and said, “Uh, I don’t know, maybe back in 2000 when I installed the thing, but I don’t remember.”
I gave him my best look of, well that’s ridiculous and you know it, and said, “New York is only as terrible as you make it, have a good day.”