A Short History of Fighting with Men in Bars

I.  

I’m at a hotel bar in a small Colorado ski town. I’m 21, and entering any bar I please is still thrilling. My two friends and I drove to the mountains for the night seeking thesis stress relief. We’re at the bar just long enough to order drinks before a man approaches us. He is very drunk despite it being very early. He stands, swaying, much too close in the empty bar. He’s barely able to mumble ‘Ladies, you hanging tonight?’ I try to make meaningful eye contact with the bartender who refills the guy’s drink with a friendly nod. Okay, so no help there. After a while, I turn to face him straight on.

     “Hey, my friends and I are having a conversation. Would you mind giving us a little space?”

     He mutters and wanders off.

      “Wow,” my friend says, ‘that was so bitchy.”

      I feel ashamed.

II.  

Four years later. It’s summer in New York City and my friend and I are drinking enthusiastically at a scuzzy Upper East Side dive. I was just let out early from a catering gig (which never happens) with a big cash tip (which never, ever happens) and I’m in an excellent mood.  We’re talking, talking, talking completely absorbed in each other. A man passing by stops and pivots toward us just the word ‘bisexual’ leaves my lips.

    “Hey, ladies.” He is young, professional looking in a blue button down. He looks at us expectantly as if waiting to be filled in on our conversation, given some context for what he’s overheard.

    “Hey.’ We both say. My friend is southern and burdened with impeccable manners. She indulges the conversation politely while I simmer, resenting being interrupted.

Sorry for all the stuff I broke.

Sorry for all the stuff I broke.

    My friend reaches the end of her polite chitchat and he is still there, standing squarely between us, waiting for something more.

    “Well, so nice meeting you! See you around,” I say, impressed with how chipper I’ve made myself sound.

    “Wow, no need to be a bitch.” He looks me in the eyes.

     My friend and I lose our cool at the exact same moment and to the exact same degree-- a rare and beautiful thing. I’m used to being the only angry one. Not this time, she is right there with me while we rip this guy a much needed fucking new one.

    “Well, fuck you.”

    “Leave us the fuck alone.”

    “You should go fuck yourself.”

    “You entitled fucking prick.”

    “Hey, bartender, this guy is bothering us.”

    “We’re leaving and it’s because of this guy.”

    We are loud. Everyone turns and stares. The guy looks shocked, almost scared, but not sorry.

    We pay our bill and giggle as we half-run down the street, adrenaline surging through us. God, that felt good. Telling him off felt good, but what felt better was having a friend at my side, not telling me to calm down, not telling me I’m over-reacting.

    We go to another bar. Drink another pitcher. Go through the entire interaction blow by blow.  We never drink together on the Upper East Side again.

III.  

A year later, I’m slumped over at high top bar table in midtown. I’m not drunk, just sad. I’m convinced my apartment has bed bugs, again. The exterminator is scheduled to come for an inspection the next morning, and in the meantime all I can do is stress, stress, stress. I drop my forehead to the table as my friend tries to soothe me. A man stumbles our way. He stands there, drunkenly swaying between us, trying to engage us in conversation with enticing nuggets like, ‘What’s up, ladies?’ ‘My friends told me I had to come to say hi.’ ‘What? You don’t want to talk? Come onnnnnnn.” He too wears a blue button down.

    My annoyance that this guy won’t leave us the alone is actually a relief from my bed bug panic, but I’m too tired to tell this guy to fuck off. I don’t have the fight in me tonight. I trot out a well worn tactic.

    “This is actually my old friend, um, Cassandra. We haven’t seen each other in seven years. We’re catching up tonight.”

    “Oh, okay, whatever.” I’m foolish enough to think I’ve successfully deflected him as he turned to walk away. But then...

    “Lesbians.” He spits it over his shoulder like a slur and he lurches back to friends.

    The word hits me in the spine. Suddenly, I am sitting up very straight and ready for action.

    “Grab your stuff,” I tell my friend. “We are leaving.” I pick up the still full pitcher of beer from our table and stride over to the guy and his friends.

    “Hiiiiiii,” I say with a wide grin. He looks bewildered. “Remember, a second ago when you were a homophobic asshole?”

I wait a beat for the words to sink in. I look him in the eyes. Then I cock back my arm and throw the pitcher at his head. I wish I could have stayed to see him soaked and sputtering, but the second it leaves my fingertips I turn on my heel and sprint out of the bar. Behind me, I hear my friend having the last word, ‘FUCK YOUUUUUUU’  before she runs after me.

We run as fast as we can, weaving between pedestrians until we’re down the block and around the corner. Only then do we stop and turn around. They haven’t followed us.

We laugh, but keep looking over our shoulders all the to the subway.

 

IV.  

Two months later. An old friend and I are seated at a crowded bar on a Saturday night. We’re having a conversation spanning grad school, depression and cockroaches.

    A man leans across the bar and says to us, “Wow, you two are beautiful.”

    We turn to see who is addressing us.  He continues, “Your face,” he says pointing, “is better than her face.”

    Your face is better than her face.

    That is what he said to us.

    Am I surprised? At this point, I should be used to this. I should understand that as a woman I cannot have a reasonable expectation of control over my time and space. The second a man interrupts, that is the only conversation I am having. I’ve tried being straight forward, being polite, weaving elaborate back stories to justify continuing to talk to my friend in peace. At this point, I should be used it.

    But this surprises me. This is new. ‘Your face is better than her face.’ It makes my ears ring. What the actual fuck are we supposed to do with that? It’s so mean, it’s so unwelcome, it’s so insulting on every imaginable level. Your face is better than her face. 

    I engage him. I lean across the bar.

    “What did you just say to us?” I demand.

    Apparently, this response is wildly different from the one he expected. He turns to his phone and tries to ignore me.

    “Excuse me, I want you to repeat what you just said to us.”

    He continues trying to ignore me.

    “Well, fuck you!”

    A man steps between us. I don’t know if he’s his buddy or what. I don’t know if he’s heard the beginning of this exchange. All I know is now he’s the man interrupting the conversation I’m trying to have. “Woah, woah, calm down," he says.

    I lose it. I throw one glass. And then another. I aim so the glass barely misses their heads and shatters on the wall the behind them. They crouch and cower. I hook the heel of my boots on the first rung of my stool, stand up and scream FUCK YOU so loud everyone is the bar stops, turns and stares. The female bartender is yelling at me that I have to leave. I turn around and there’s the security guard. A huge man. His glasses fogged up on his way in from the frigid night to the warm bar. I stifle the urge to giggle at this very big man in the fogged up glasses. This is not the right time to giggle at a man. How does that saying go? Women’s number one fear of men is getting murdered. Men’s number one fear of women is getting laughed at. I suck in my breath, steady myself and hold my head up as he escorts me out of bar.

As I walk out, I hear one of the men behind me mutter “Psychotic.”

My first thought: “Maaaaaaaybe.”

I do feel crazy. It feels terrible to feel crazy.

My friend joins me on the sidewalk. She looks pale. Those glasses whizzed by her head, too. I apologize. 

 

V.    

At first, I tell no one about this encounter. And then slowly, I start telling my female friends. Their response is unanimous, some variation upon, “Gin - that’s badass. You showed him.” What I can’t explain to them is it does not feel badass. It feels very, very bad. I didn’t show anyone anything. I spend a lot of time in bed.

      I try explaining it to male friends They unanimously need clarity on one key detail, “Whose face was he saying was better?” I can’t get them to understand is that it was not a compliment.  I spend more time in bed.

      The next week, I’m back in my hometown for the holidays. At the local bar, a man my father’s age approaches me from behind and puts both his hands on my shoulders.  I whirl around so fast I scare him.

       “Good,” I think, “you should be fucking scared of me.”  I’m scared of me.

 

 

Surly Temple

It’s gala season in New York City, and I am your sober incompetent bartender.  

Suited up.  

Suited up.

 

I’m on a sobriety kick. I cycle through these kicks about twice a year. Back in September, life was being particularly good to me, and I reveled by ordering whiskey ginger after whiskey ginger. Then my apartment got infested by bed bugs and my drinking took a self-pitying turn. There is a lot of alcoholism in my family history so whether I’m drinking to revel or in self-pity there is always a part of me wary and disapproving. By many people’s standards, my drinking was not out of control, but I have my own kid-of-an-alcoholic standards.  According to those standards, I needed to cool it.

Nothing makes me want to drink less than bartending. From my limited understanding, this is not the industry standard. Then again, I am not a real bartender. After returning to my catering gig from a 18-month hiatus, I started getting bar shifts. Why? Haven’t a clue. I am a mediocre (at best) waiter. I’m good at smiling at the guests, but I invariably show up with a rumpled shirt, wet hair and proceed to sneak hor d'oeuvres in the the back stairwell (I know the best spot to hide and eat in every fancy event space in Manhattan).  During my hiatus, I worked as a mediocre (at best) receptionist. If anyone needs a admin assistant who can deliver all the mail in a timely manner, but always shows up with rumpled clothes, wet hair and proceeds to complain loudly about throwing her back out during sex again, don’t call me - I’m not available.  If I had to venture a guess as to why I’m suddenly getting bar shifts I’d say it has nothing to do with my sweet little ass and everything to do with my reliability - who else cancels hours before a shift with a one line email - I HAVE BED BUGS - not once but twice in one week?

My bar kit.

My bar kit.

I do not know how to bartend. I understand that liquid needs to end up in drinking glasses, but otherwise it’s a lot of guess work. I slogged over to a sketchy restaurant supply store on Bowery to buy myself the required kit hoping a bar spoon and jigger would imbue me with some knowledge beyond ‘martinis go in martini glasses.’  Luckily, it’s catering. You can get away with a whole lot more than at an actual  job - which basically sums the entire appeal of catering. At a recent event, my manager suggested I steal a cocktail shaker from the rental bin. “Just take it,” he said as he gave my co-worker the universal ‘you have coke all over nose’ hand gesture, and launched into a ten minute diatribe about how Samsung definitely planted a mole in Apple’s design department who purposefully let those bendy iPhones go to market. Corporate. Espionage. Sobriety felt good that night.

New York City gala season means self-congratulatory speeches, unfortunate facelifts and open bars.  The causes vary (lung cancer, affordable housing, natural disaster relief), but the events all feel the same. The crowd hits the open bar, refuses to quiet down when the host takes the stage no matter how much it’s shhhed, scarfs down a chicken dinner and returns to the bar.  At a recent event raising money for global health initiatives, Samantha Power spoke about the ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. Then a horde of drunk people in formal wear danced to a live band’s rendition of Pit Bull’s Timber while a gargantuan slideshow of sick African people played above them. Sobriety felt very good that night.

When the guests are packed in three deep at the bar, my alcoholism spidey senses zero in the problem drinkers in the swarm. It’s my kid-of-an-alcoholic superpower. The blonde marketing rep declaring a little too giddily she’s ‘getting crunk on a Wednesday.’ Mr. Vodka on the Rocks in a Water Glass glancing over his shoulder to check if his wife is watching.  To the weary middle aged woman insisting unprompted the fifth glass of Pinot Grigio is for her friend. I see you. My imagination cannot help but fill in details of their lives.  A good bartender never judges her patrons, but I am not a good bartender. I still google ‘how to make a martini’ every goddamn time.

I miss passing hor d'oeuvres. Specifically, pounding hor d’oeuvres three at a time in back stairwells--that I am good at.  Bartending does not give you access to the endless supply of free food. I’m adjusting though. Professional bartending tip: drunk people will bring you food. It’s their most redeemable trait. All you have to do is ask. If that fails, take a bathroom break, whisper to a waiter with a tray full of food ‘meet me in the back in two minutes’ and when his eyes light up, clarify: ‘Bring the short rib.’

I Have Bed Bugs & You Can Too!

A couple weeks ago, I got an email no one wants to get. Another woman from the comedy tour I'm on has bed bugs. We've all been sharing close quarters in the past two months, crammed into rental cars and crashing on the air mattresses of gracious relatives up and down the east coast. It's possible we've all been exposed. She assured us she was taking all the necessary steps to eradicate the infestation, but warned us to on be on the lookout for hitchhikers (not the murderer kind, the much worse insect kind).

Just reading the words on my iPhone made me itch. I felt phantom creepy crawlies all over for days. I started waking up in the middle of the night, jumping out of bed and inspecting my sheets and pillows. I found nothing. I still couldn't sleep. This is not like me. I am the heavy weight champion of sleeping. After one particularly fretful night, I decided to get an inspection. For of peace mind, I told myself as I shelled out $125. But there was no peace of mind for me. The exterminator found the telltale sign of a new infestation on my box spring: feces. Specially, bed bug feces.

If you are like me, you have heard the horror stories about bed bugs. If you are really like me, you spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about them. To put your mind at ease, I want to share with you my experiences with bed bugs so you know what to expect if you ever find yourself infested (and don't worry, you will).

photo credit: Gothamist.com

photo credit: Gothamist.com

1. You treat and bag every single object in your home. Cloth items go in the dryer on high for 45 minutes or get dry cleaned. Non-cloth items get spritzed with rubbing alcohol. Once treated, you bag everything in heavy duty trash bags sealed with duct tape.

2. You live out a trash bag in your kitchen for two weeks. That's how long the extermination process takes. One spray for the live bugs then again two weeks later for any who may have hatched in the interim. 

3. You return to that laundromat on your corner that you swore to never go into again after 'the incident.' * Now that you have to lug every single piece of clothing and bedding going to your new laundromat three blocks away is out of the question.

* The time you brought in all your underwear to be re-washed because the wash & fold ladies dried them with a dryer sheet even though you specifically told them dryer sheets give you yeast infections. They got pissed at you, called you a liar and wouldn't give you the bag when you came to pick it up so you sorta kinda ended up stealing your underwear back from them which kinda sorta resulted in a slow moving foot chase. But that was, like, eight months ago. They probably won't even remember you.**

** They remember you.

 

4. People keep asking you if bed bugs can live in your hair (you take this as partial complement to your long, thick, all-around awesome hair) so you google it. The internet reassures you bed bugs can't bite skin covered in hair hence the common occurrence of facial bites. Whew!

5. You essentially move in with your new boyfriend. You spend the first night cohabiting manically cleaning his room while vacillating between sobbing fits and rants on 'when was the last fucking time you cleaned in here?' and 'did I seriously just find ANOTHER bra behind your dresser?'  Feel kind of guilty about all the ranting because he is, after all, the only person insane and merciful enough to offer you a place to stay. Promise to make it up to him with some hot sex the next night, but get very drunk instead and pass out with your hand in a bag of chips.

6. You nearly lose your shit on your nosey coworker who points out you are looking even more disheveled than usual. Your cheap catering tux jacket didn't hold up so well in the 45 minute dryer treatment. Consider it a point of pride you resist your urge to scream, "Bitch, I'm living out of a god damn trash bag, what the fuck do you want from me?'

7. In the middle of the night, you conclude your wooden dresser is the definitely the Hilton Bed Bug and decide to drag it by yourself down three flights of stairs. Realize halfway down you grossly underestimated the weight of the dresser. Just then, your landlord sticks his head out his door to ask, 'What the hell are you doing?'

'Help me,' you say, 'It's too heavy for just me.'

'I have a bad back,' he replies and shuts his door.

The next morning your downstairs neighbor stops you in the hallway and asks, 'Did you hear that crazy woman cursing and throwing things outside last night?'

'Oh,' you reply, 'that was me.'

8. You go on a spree buying Rubbermaid bins on Amazon to replace your dresser. Rush through checkout and have everything shipped to your parents' house. Is this the 'poor attention to details' your boss mentioned in that rough 6 month review? Nah. Fuck her.

9. You feel creepy crawly constantly, but know it's all in your head. Except no, actually, it isn't at all. Turns out, your boyfriend's dog has fleas and they are biting the shit out of you. This leads you to a develop a new theory: Wherever You Go Bugs Feast on Your Blood.

10. You call your mom uncontrollably sobbing from Penn Station insisting that she has to come get your right now. No, not in couple hours after her therapy appointment. Right. Now.

***

I hope this guide will serve you well in the future when you are dealing with your very own infestation.

Goodnight and good fucking luck.


 




 

The Universe and I

I have a secret. I believe in the secret. As in, The Secret, the hokiest of all contemporary pseudoscience trends. I really didn't mean for this to happen, but here I am, one year out of college, and the only things I've found to help me pass as a functional adult are the teachings of a bestselling self-help phenomenon.

It's embarrassing to admit, but The Secret is working for me. Or I'm deluded. Either way, it feels great.

For those who don't regularly peruse the self-help aisle, The Secretbrand is best understood as the Da Vinci Code of positive psychology. Citing opinions of experts ranging from Galileo to Ben Franklin to the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the SoulThe Secretteaches us that the universe is governed by the law of attraction. We attract things to us with our thoughts; positive thoughts attract positive things, and vice versa. Therefore, if we can harness our minds, we can create our future life through our present thoughts.

I found The Secret in my instant Netflix queue one winter afternoon and put in on for a laugh. I needed a laugh. Since graduating the previous spring, my life had become an absolute mess.

I was living in Denver, thousands of miles away from my family and the vast majority of my good friends, and working a shitty restaurant job with zero motivation to find something more interesting or at least better-paying. I lived like a slob, eating two out of three meals in bed while watching TV on the Internet and smoking a bowl. All the sexual encounters that took place on my crumb-filled bed were, needless to say, lackluster.

I wasn't depressed. I knew what that felt like, and this funk was a different animal.

I felt suspended in a post-graduation abyss, directionless and unsure of myself. In a year's time I had transformed from a know-it-all, ambitious philosophy major into the sort aimless malcontent that comprised The Secret's target audience.

Baser desires

When I clicked on the movie, I intended to get a sort of cynical satisfaction akin to laughing at those Greenpeace canvassers I found so irritating. Instead, the Chicken Soup guy's earnest argument for how thoughts manifest themselves tangibly in our lives struck a chord.

Before his franchise became enormously successful, he drew six zeroes onto a dollar bill and pinned it to the ceiling above his bed, where he stared at it every night and first thing every morning. And then, as he tells it, within a year, viola! — he was a billionaire.

If The Secret was that easy, then this lazy stoner would give it a shot.

There are three steps: ask, believe and receive. First, ask the universe for what you want. Get very clear about your request, and focus in on it.

Next, believe. Know that your request has already been granted; it's just a matter of time before it presents itself to you. Don't concern yourself with the how; allow the universe to do the work for you.

And finally, receive. Trust your instincts and proceed when opportunities arise.

Easy enough. So what did I want? I wanted to not be so freaking broke. I wanted to get decently laid. And most of all, I wanted something interesting to happen. Life had become so boring, and me along with it. These were my desires: money, sex and excitement.

Lowbrow? Perhaps. But I was accustomed to mitigating expectations. Enough bad sex will do that to a girl.

So I began, and the weirdness started in immediately. The night after watching the movie, I ran into an old mentor, an editor at the paper I interned with a few summers before.

"You should write something for us," he told me.

"Is that you, Universe?" I wondered. The moment felt a little magical, like it was a sign or something. Then again, I was pretty stoned.

But the weirdness kept coming, and it got harder to blame it on the bud. A friend hooked me up with a part-time catering gig, where I earned more money in a night than in a week at my other job. Up a few hundred, I felt like a million.

Where once there was only awkward drunken fumbling, my dating life was suddenly lush. Not one, but two prospects came to fruition within the same week, neither of whom ever texted me things like, "What you doozing tonight?" at 3 a.m.

Flush with money and orgasms, I fervently practiced The Secret's "powerful processes" of gratitude and visualization. Every time a manager handed me a check, instead of ripping it open and immediately bemoaning taxes, I gripped it tight and silently repeated "Thank you" until I got funny looks. I passed the slow hours before close at the restaurant visualizing the days when my work outfits wouldn't require name tags or ties.

Despite my early success, I couldn't shake the suspicion I was becoming a desperate consumer of pseudoscience, satisfied by a few trivial victories. Since its release in 2006, more than 21 million copies of the book have been sent into the world — and yet besides Oprah, who has featured it twice, I have never known anyone who abides by it. I wanted to talk to another believer, someone credible to reassure me The Secret worked for them, too.

I posted an ad on Craigslist to no avail. Since The Secret advises us to be persistent, I posted another and another. I never got a single response — very un-Secrety.

Maybe, like me, fellow followers were ashamed of it. Or perhaps once you've truly harnessed the power of The Secret, you no longer need to browse the Internet for used couches and rookie prostitutes.

Or maybe there were just no believers at all. As if millions of people purchased The Secrethoping to find some wisdom and never made it past the first chapter once they realized that it intended to quote Albert Einstein and the guy from Chicken Soup for the Soul side by side.

It's a sign

Although Craigslist let me down, I began to hear the sentiments of The Secret reiterated in unexpected places. In Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence muses on the secret to success: "If you were young, you just set your teeth, and bit on and held on, till the money began to flow from the invisible ..."

I'm sure any English professor from my alma mater would backhand me for drawing such a connection, but it felt good to imagine Lawrence might somehow be on my side.

If The Secret was real, my remaining skeptical for the sake of pride was interfering with the second step: believe. With or without any outside reassurances, I was seeing results, so I decided to change my approach.

On a recent trip home, I spent an entire afternoon camped out on a park bench in Philadelphia with a huge, colorful sign reading "Do You Know the Secret?"

I was going to meet someone who knew what I was talking about. I just made up my mind about it, and concentrated on radiating certainty.

At first, my sign only attracted some bubbly teenagers and a long-winded, burnt-out hippie. I fielded questions and handed out coconut cookies. After a while, a girl about my age approached.

"Excuse me, what is going on here?" she gestured toward my sign.

"Have you ever heard of The Secret?"

"Like the book? Yeah, I've read it like five times."

Jackpot.

Sasha's New Age spiritual healer had introduced her to The Secret when she was 17, and she's been a believer ever since. We sat and talked for about 20 minutes. We were a lot alike; same age, similar backgrounds.

"One thing I've learned," she mentioned just as she got up to go, "is that the negative thoughts are more powerful than positive ones."

How did she mean?

"Like, one time, I wished a person would die and then they did. I wasn't the only person to wish death on this guy," she added hastily, "but when they did the autopsy, they couldn't find a cause of death. He was 17 and he just died in his sleep."

Holy. Shit.

No more burritos in bed

Sasha left me with a lot to think about. For example, does it bode poorly that the only fellowSecret-er I could find may be a murderer?

If I could be open with strangers about my Secret secret, I figured it was time to also come out of the closet to my friends. I started asking around and was surprised by the general lack of cynicism on the subject.

In general, friends said parts sounded realistic while other parts, definitely not so much. My friend Maggie, a very accomplished psychology major, said research has shown that thoughts about experiences, rather than experiences themselves, are the key difference between feeling depressed or not. Hence, The Secret's claim about positive thinking being of the utmost importance may actually enjoy some scientific support.

Another particularly smart friend, an English major, put a literary-theory spin on her analysis. Laura made the excellent point that ... actually I couldn't follow, but I'm sure it was excellent. I'm done with college, and therefore no longer have to pretend to understand things like literary theory.

But both Maggie and Laura made the same objection. What about the random? The unexpected? Aren't some of the best things in life supposed to be the ones you never saw coming? And the worst, too?

Each one pointed out the foolhardiness of believing that our thoughts alone are responsible for everything that happens to us. A valid point, to which my only counter-argument was, sure, but if The Secret isn't real, then why has everything felt so damn magical lately?

Perfunctory skepticism aside, I knew I was a full-fledged convert. I had started to get myself out of a funk, and now I had two jobs, two guys and never a moment to feel bored.

However, not being bored, I slowly admitted to myself, isn't the same thing as being happy.

In the Arcade Fire song "Neighborhood #2," the vocalist cries, "If you want something, don't ask for nothing." I've listened to that song countless times, but now I hear something completely different. It draws attention to a crucial aspect of The Secret.

It invites you to ask for anything, to make any request of the universe. Anything at all.

And what did I ask for? Not to land a dream job, but to not be broke. Not to meet someone wonderful, but to get laid. Not for something exceptional to happen, but to not feel bored.

I was consistently selling myself short with lack of vision. If The Secret could make all my crude dreams come true, I figured it was time to get more ambitious. I need to get specific to order for The Secret to do its Secret-y thing.

I want to be the kind of person who doesn't eat Chipotle in bed anymore, or anything else for that matter. Beyond that, I don't really know yet. But when I do, you can be damn sure the universe will hear about it.

 

** this article originally appeared on the cover of the Colorado Springs Independent on May 5, 2011

Tandem Bike

Last week, I moved from Bushwick to Prospect Heights.

From my new apartment, my commute to a bakery in Cobble Hill is much simpler. Instead of walking to and then waiting for the G train, I walk one bock to the corner Classon and Bergen and hop on the B65 bus. The ride takes about eight minutes and drops me right in front of work.

Early Sunday morning, I was sitting at the bus stop, checking Twitter and the bus went right past me. I guess the driver wanted to me to be standing at attention or no dice. I looked up just as the bus cruised past. I bolted up and called out, “Oh, come on! I’m right here!” but it was already halfway down the block.

I let out a few expletives. The next bus didn’t come for another 30 minutes and walking would take about just as long. I was going to be late.

At that moment, a man on a tandem bike pulled up aside me.

“Need a ride?”

“Yea, I guess I do,” I said peevishly, still thinking about that driver.

“Where are you going?”

“Smith St.”

“I can take you down to Flatbush and you can catch the bus there.”

Deal. I got onboard. The bike wasn’t really a tandem, just modified to have a second seat with pegs instead of petals. I put my feet up.

As he pedaled down Bergen, I appreciated that he didn’t make small talk. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and still cool.

We passed the B65 and I gave the driver a wave. She didn’t see me that time either.

He pulled up to the curb at Flatbush. I jumped off and thanked him. He said sure and turned left.

A minute later, I got on the bus.

I was early to work.

 

** this story originally appeared on City Stories on May 10, 2013