Monday, April 27, 2009

Adventures in Brooklyn

My lousy day yesterday took a most interesting twist come evening. After enduring a day that tested my already frayed-beyond-repair nerves and approximately 4 hours of travel due to MTA construction, I managed to exit the station at my connection instead of locate the tunnel to the G train. I'm telling you, if you're looking for a sign that a Yekki is wiped, that there's a biggie.

Anyhow I called a friend, who kindly hop-stopped my location and gave me directions to the appropriate station entrance (why are station entrances hidden blocks away from each other?). So I thankfully managed to get to the right spot only to hit another snafu, namely that the MTA booth operator was a total and utter B. While I can certainly understand her being incredulous that I took the exit instead of the tunnel, and while I can even more certainly empathize with her stance that I had to pay to re-enter, what got to me was the openly abusive tone she dealt out. It was the final straw.

I exited the station and called up the said friend again. While I originally called to get a bit of sage advice akin to don't have a nervous breakdown in the middle of the sidewalk, I realized that deep breathing and visualization wasn't going to cut it. Generally, when my frustration level hits that high on the pole (which very thankfully is not too frequently), I need to do something physical. Clean the apartment. Go for a run/walk. Work out. Bake cookies (dough is therapy people!).

So when my friend said that I was really close to home, just 8 stops away, so suck it up, put my ego aside and get back on the metro, I decided that I should just walk home. I figured I can easily walk 4 miles in an hour, and this was only 4.5, so no biggie. Plus, after being cooped up on the trains and in the accountant's overheated apartment, "fresh air" was in order. I received confirmation that the identified route home was safe, and so off I went.

Problem was, the area turned out to be pretty scuzzy. In fact, as someone who has had the dubious honour of living in some of the worst areas in Canada, I kind of pride myself on my ability to 1) spot unsafe areas, and 2) "walk" smart aka safe. So I got a little nervous and called up for confirmation that the route was correct, because there was no way anyone would consider a woman walking at night in a primarily deserted industrial area safe.

Some of the encounters with the locals, infrequent as they were, were harmless enough. Take the group of 8 or so teenage boys who crowded me on the sidewalk, acting all cute ("Girl, stop checking me out!"). Yet other stuff was less cute, like the Cadillac. At first, I was laughing. I mean, how cliche! But when I turned around to go back down the block to the car wash (was I glad it was open) because I noticed the caddy inching along next to me for a block, and the caddy made a sudden U-turn and come back towards me- that was less cute. I did make it home in one piece though, so I guess I can state that I had my first official Brooklyn adventure.

A few blocks later, I came across a woman and a man on his bike talking in the lady's little garden. I decided to confirm that I was on course, and found them to be very pleasant. The guy even winked at me and made a joke. After Ms. MTA, I was glad to see that a few of my fellow Brooklynites were willing to be neighbourly. Once I made it to Fort Hamilton Pkwy, I was in familiar territory, and the people watching was particularly good. Overall, the walk wound up being a positive experience. I felt a gazillion times better by the time I reached home.

The walk got my wondering about who displayed the true Brooklyn attitude, neighbourly guy/girl or Ms. MTA. And I suppose it's all relative to which part of Brooklyn you find yourself in. Take Ms. MTA. Since the first half of my jaunt was through Scuzzville, I came to see that the lady probably operates more as security than booth operator. Hence her nasty, over-the-top reaction to me becomes understandable. But when when it comes right down to it, I'd like to think that the real Brooklyn spirit was evidenced by those people in the little garden. Call me a Pollyanna, but I like to think the best of my borough, if I dare.

1 comment:

  1. I remember having once to walk in Williamsburg. It was only five short blocks or so, and I didn't want to wait for the bus. But the area was so desolated, I felt uncomfortable. Then I decided to double check the directions, and the owner of the deli where I walked in told me that she herself would not walk there alone and would wait for the bus. So that sealed it. Very unpleasant experience. The one block to the bus station and 15 minute wait for the bus was very, very creepy.