Sunday, October 01, 2006

Attitude is Everything

Sorry for disappearing. Business, you know?

Anyway, I started to write a post from the road last week, when some website in another window just demolished Firefox, and I lost it all. So I decided to go to sleep instead.

Last week's business adventure took me to New York City. This is notable because it was, remarkably, my first actual visit to The Big Apple. And much to my surprise, I liked it!

To be completely fair, I had been in NYC once before, long ago. One summer during college, I drove from San Francisco to Washington, DC, for an internship, and one of the guys who drove with me lived in New York City, so we went through there and dropped him off. He was kind enough to let us shower in his apartment (which we badly needed, after three days of driving across country in June with no air conditioning). We parked the car across from his Greenwich Village apartment next to a huge pile of garbage (there was a garbage strike going was hot...I leave the details to your imagination). Had a quick bite to eat in a cafe, then headed off into the teeth of rush hour to try to find our way to D.C.

Now, I can already hear some of you saying, "What the hell were you thinking, DRIVING in New York City, at rush hour, without a clue as to where you are or where you are going?" Chalk it up to youthful naivete or something. Needless to say, the experience was not a pleasant one. I got honked at. A lot. A lot of people pointed me in various directions with other than their index fingers. I heard some colorful language. And eventually, I found a tunnel off the island, back onto the highway, and south toward D.C. (via the New Jersey Turnpike).

So for years I've had this notion that I don't like NYC, don't want to go there, etc. And along comes this assignment to go to a meeting in New York last week. OK, I'm a big boy now; I can handle this. I hedged my bets by booking the same flight with my boss so we could share a cab into the city. Then of course, his schedule changed, and I was on my own, arriving at JFK airport after midnight, knowing only the name and address of my hotel.

And it turned out just fine. Had a pleasant ride, chatted with the cabbie. Arrived at the hotel without incident. Met a coworker the next morning who knows the town, and he led me around midtown for several hours before our meeting. And it was really fun. It helps that the weather was gorgeous: sunny and warm, but neither muggy nor hot. Just great. Saw all kinds of stuff, like Carnegie Hall, the Carnegie Deli, Grand Central Terminal, the public library, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, lots of theaters.

So I guess one lesson I can take from all this is that your attitude is very important in how you perceive things. If you expect to hate something, you probably won't like it. [Why do I feel like I've had this discussion with my daughter about foods?] So even though I have said these words often, I found that by keeping my mind open, I had a great time. Good to put that into practice.

I won't go so far as to say I love New York, but I am actually eager to go back and see some shows and try some things out. Another place to explore: yay!


Laura E. Goodin said...

The other thing to keep in mind is that New York actually IS better than it was 20 years ago. I've been visiting the city several times a year since childhood (except when I've been in Australia, and even then we've managed to head in once or twice -- or more -- per US visit). And it's DEFINITELY improved. In the 70s it was almost incomprehensibly horrid. These days you wouldn't know it for the same city. (Of course, that demands the question: where did all the misery go? Misery doesn't disappear, it just gets shoved off-camera. So where are all those sad, hopeless people?)

Chard said...

Truly, it is a better place, at least from what people tell me. I was in a different part of town, so I can't directly compare.

The cynical side of me says all the sad, hopeless people are now serving as Members of Congress (see later post).