A Scary SituationWithout thinking, I throw on slippers and a robe — despite the winter temperatures I forgo pants — and bound down the stairs to the street. The bartender who lives downstairs from me, Leah, is already outside holding a very large mug of coffee, undoubtedly on little to no sleep. She explains the firefighters were evacuating the building, though they’re still unsure of the cause of the fire. We stand there gawking, trying to make sense of the scene. Fires are my biggest fear living in NYC; I mean, one idiot who sleeps with candles in the building or who leaves their stove on and the entire structure goes up in flames. This is why I keep an emergency ladder near my window, and refuse to sleep with a space heater on. While Leah stares at the apartment, hoses weaving in and out its windows like a snake, I look at the people. One guy clutches a kitten inside a thin denim coat, while a girl appears to be in trance staring at her feet. And here I am, watching their real life horror like a movie. “Does anyone want to come in for blankets and coffee? I hear myself say aloud.
New Yorkers Find A New Way To Make FriendsThe crowd has thinned by this point, many scurrying off to shelters — if your living space goes on fire the city provides you a bed — and the homes of loved ones. One crowd of four, however, hops on the opportunity. I’m glad my Airbnb guest isn’t home for this; Bushwick certainly could be filled with surprises. Here was one: Look at these new friends I found on the street. We’re having a breakfast party! Well, in as many Tinder dates as I’ve been on I’ve never met strangers cooler than this bunch. A cloud of smoke and dust envelopes the group as they enter my tiny Brooklyn railroad pad, though we settle right into it. Steaming mugs of cheap coffee are poured from my $8 Fat Alberts machine, with slices of bread and candy bars for added nutrition. Hey, I’m not complaining about the crappy meal, I’m rejoicing about about community coming together, despite my unpreparedness.
Community In BrooklynSwapping stories with these people, I realize how often I’d probably passed them on the sidewalk without even looking up or waving. They were my neighbors, literally. Why did it take tragedy for us to exchange words? So often New Yorkers are aggressively focused on their own dreams and destinations. We move so quickly toward what we think we need — our desks, our meetings, our favorite sandwich delis — we miss out on what’s around us. Joe tells me of his life as a fashion photographer, and we swap notes on our favorite shooting locations around the city. Maya is a jewelry artist, and while I don’t know much about style (read above: robe with no pants) we both share strong opinions on how social media is changing the entrepreneurial landscape. I don’t quite catch what Aedan does, though his thick Irish accent doesn’t cover his comedic skills. Despite having his room go on fire, he’s in mighty good spirits. Once meeting these awesome people, I actually do wish my Airbnb guest was home to get a true sense of NYC beyond the stereotype of everyone being mean. Sure, New Yorkers may not always be the warmest bunch, and it’s certainly not unheard of to have someone flip you off or plot a murder next to you on the subway; but for the most part, if you ask for help — or if someone sees you need it — you can get it. See, New Yorkers aren’t all mean.
Have you ever experienced something negative that led to something positive? Please share your story in the comments below!
Recommended:11 Epic #TravelFail Stories From The Road [Blog Inspiration] Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton [Great Reads] Pickpocket-Proof Garments [Travel Safety]
Want to live your best life through travel?
Subscribe for FREE access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more!