Almost-adult (meaning you basically need to get your life together by now) woman moved to New York City with more baggage than socially acceptable (do you really need three checked bags?) and a passion for lights and traffic and noise. Said young woman sets out to explore the urban jungle, and is hit with some hard truths. The world is not what is seems. And so, she writes her first blog post about all the weird things she’s learned here.
Bumping into people is not okay. Unlike Pakistan, where bumping into people (sometimes intentionally) is just inevitable, here most people will instantly turn to apologize, take pains to make sure no part of them or their belongings is touching you, beg your pardon (insert British accent), or glare at you (if you were the clumsy one – basically me, all the time. My adventures on the jostling trains every morning are filled with a series of sorrysorrysorrys).
McDonalds doesn’t deliver. Yes. I was so used to just picking up the phone and McArabia meal-ing my way through the work day, that I called my local McDonalds here and began to list all the delicious things I wanted when the polite employee on the other end told me that they don’t participate in the delivery program. Further investigation revealed that the closest McDonalds that delivered was in fact 15 miles away. Oh joy.
Customer Service really hopes you have a great day. Unlike surly Pakistani customer service (in the rare cases when it actually exists for a brand) whose main aim to get off the phone with you as soon as possible, store or helpline associates here are for the most part, positive, and at the very least polite.
It’s not far – just 10 blocks. When you’ve lived a relatively privileged life in Pakistan, you know one fundamental yet slightly unrealized truth – you never really walk anywhere. Yes, we like walks, and we pride ourselves on going down to the neighborhood market on foot, but we never really walk – not the way people do here. A lady on the subway was talking to her friend, and mentioned how where she wanted to go was 25 blocks away. Her companion said he didn’t want to walk, and her response was, “Goodness, you’re so lazy. It’s not even far.”
This is (sometimes) the land of abundance. Maybe it’s because you don’t see emaciated children on the street, or maybe it’s just because my mom would insist I clean my plate, but I can’t imagine throwing away a good chunk of my meal just because it wasn’t to my liking or I felt too full to have it. I am forever that friend who embarrassingly wraps her half-sandwich in a napkin and tucks it into her purse for future munching opportunities. In the past month, I’ve seen quite a few people just dump sizable meal portions – half a burger, a half-serving of fries, left over fish fingers, and each time, I found myself itching to say, “I’ll keep it and eat it later! Just don’t waste it!” But I didn’t. Damn that peer pressure.
You can talk to automated phone recordings! I know this is dorky, but I was blown away when I called my bank’s helpline number and the automated phone-lady’s voice asked me a question and then didn’t tell me what buttons to push for yes/no. In the resulting 10 seconds of silence, I was confused and glancing around to make sure no one witnessed me being a crazy person, I whispered, “Yes.” and the computer lady voice said thank you. #success
This is by no means exhaustive, and I’ll keep adding to it, but suffice it to say, I’m excited to keep FOB-ing (fresh off the boat immigrant) my way through the adventures that await.