Being a former Memphian here in the Big Apple I have been told by some of my New York friends that I stick out. Now I try daily to blend in. My suits are dark, my long ties (no bowties up here) are conservative and my attire on the weekends normally is dark w/o much fanfare. I leave the apartment each morning, give instructions to the kitchen staff on what we would like for dinner and make my way to the elevator. I get on the elevator and normally it is already occupied with either people heading to work or Nannies with kids in tow and here is where ‘Memphis’ comes out. “Good Morning, how is everyone doing?” The look that I get from them is like I have just farted loudly and the night prior I drank gallons of cheap draught beer. It is silent as a Trump Supporter at an immigration hearing in that elevator.
I can see it in their face, they don’t know how to respond. They saw my lips move but didn’t hear the words come out of my mouth. Finally the ice is broken when a 2 year old who is being shielded by their nanny says “I am going to the park to play. What are you doing today?” Needless to say the next 9 floors are ridden in silence and everyone files out of the elevator like the Mustard Gas is about to overtake them. I get into the lobby and thankfully Richard, Paul, Bobby or Bradley, the buildings doormen, are there and will exchange small talk with me. Normally the topic of discussion is the weather since it has been cold as balls up here as of late. I make my way to First Avenue and head to the subway.
My buddy Aziz who runs the newsstand on E71st and First is my go-to guy for a quick hello and a fist bump. I have to admit, I actually am kind of disappointed with Aziz. We have been up here for a year and 7 months and he still has yet to get the Memphis Flyer or the Northwest Arkansas Times for me. Down E71st I head to 2nd Avenue past my dry cleaner/alteration lady to the Subway shop. God bless Ms. Wen because her English is worse than her Spanish and when her delivery guy isn’t there it can take 30 minutes for me to drop off my shirts to her. Normally her delivery guy knows how to spell my last name, knows that I take heavy starch and will pay cash upfront to get the discount.
Here is what slays me. On my trip from the apartment to the dry cleaner I may have traveled a full block. What strikes me as funny is that I am normally the only fucker making an effort to speak to people. It is like 75% of the people in the damn building are mute or are afraid that I may pull a gun on them. My boy Aziz is the friendliest person in the world and his smile is beaming inside that little ass newsstand. Ms. Wen works her ass off but she will always make a point to say “heyrow” and always thanks me for being her customer.
What is ironic to me is that in the first 6 months of us living here I get on the elevator one morning with the dogs to take them out for their morning pee. There is a gentlemen in a suit and he immediately strikes up a conversation with me. We talk about the dogs and he is quick to address the pink elephant in the elevator….my accent. I explain to him that Momma is the reason that we live in the building. You see to live here you have to work at the joint on York and E70th streets. Because I am the only one who knows how to program the DVR she lets me live here with her. We make our way to the lobby and I notice that Robert who was behind the desk was quickly moving to the front door where Paul was already manning the door. They open both of the doors for my new elevator buddy and I and we make our way onto First Avenue. I head left to E71st while my buddy heads to get into a waiting black car. Yep you guessed it…..the CEO of the hospital lives in our building and he was chatting it up with me. I bet not one person speaks to him in the elevator on a daily basis and he is the signature on their checks.
You got my Northwest Arkansas Times Aziz? Damnit Man!
The front of our building. Here is Bobby manning the door.
Let this be a lesson to you. Treat the Janitor just like you would treat the CEO because you never know who you are riding in the elevator with.