The view from in here.
A short time ago I recieved a letter from a friend who lives and was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was a short note which I reproduce for you as well as my reply:
Thanks for your inquiry, “So, like, what’s so bad about NY anyway, dude?” You know, that’s a very interesting question. It really depends on the depth of your resources. Consider the following maxim; “New York. Walk twenty feet, spend twenty bucks.” This concept is true. My biggest problem with this city is not the crime, grime, or lack of time. It’s cash. Greenbacks. Moolah. Dough. If you have lots of money, and I can’t emphasize this enough, lots of money, you can have a great time in New York. Otherwise you can’t.
But you say, “what about all the cultural gifts the city has to offer?” You will spend all of your time diligently working, to earn money, to pay for the necessities of life like housing, food, clothing, Rolaids etc, and, consequently, will be hard pressed to enjoy the cultural gifts.
Of course if, perchance, you do have the opportunity or good fortune to own anything nice, there are nefarious persons who live with the sole purpose of removing those things from your property or person. Against your will. Without social graces. Not excluding physical harm. When it’s hot, or cold, or day, or night.
It’s true that some people get along fine sans cash. I have not met one. Credit card balances have a habit of growing in multiples of two each time you remove them from your bag or wallet. If your income can match that excessive rate you can live in Manhattan.
And more importantly you can escape. You see, once you are here, you will want to get away when you can. Especially in the summer, oh, and the winter. The two weeks that make the segue between the seasons are great times to be in the city. But during the rest of the time you’ll want to run away. That can be expensive. If you have a car it will cost you untold thousands of dollars to insure and park here. And when you leave, you must fight killer traffic on poorly maintained highways. Otherwise you have to fight killer traffic in a taxi, a rented death trap.
Twenty bucks and forty minutes will get you to the airport.
The train is ok if you can get a seat and don’t have to stand on the trip out to Long Island. And it’s easy, except when you really have to be somewhere. Then it breaks, or the staff goes on strike, or someone decides to end their life on the tracks in front of you.
Once again, if you have the resources, travel is not a problem. Just take your limo to the heliport on either side of the island and tool away to your favorite hideaway. Oh darn, doesn’t that cost lots? Movies are seven dollars, popcorn is four dollars, sodas are three dollars. Drinks? Five dollars and up. Remember dating? Cough up the cake.
There is one resource I had not pondered that would help you survive the city without cash. The resource to endure difficulty, the ability to suffer. Can you deal with the relentless calls from the student loan people, the bank, the Amex man, the phone company, your landlord? How much pasta can you consume before your brain fries and your bowels rot? Could you enjoy the smell of urine on your commute to work every day? Might you learn to fend off the beggars, aids carriers, junkies and homeless that shriek for your money daily?
Managing that, I suppose you could live here after all. I’m trapped, but if you come after all the above, it serves you right.
Yours truly, Sticky