Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Finally, good karma comes my way

If there is a silver lining in being miserably sick, it's that people feel sorry for you. Normally I am loathe to appear weak but in my weakened state I am glad to have people take pity on me. My uncontrollable coughing fits get looks of sympathy (and contempt) on the subway. On the walk to work from the train I've had people thrice ask me if I need help or if I'm OK. It's touching how sweet New Yorkers can be.

Yesterday after work I had to go see the doctor again. He'd asked to see me because he wanted to make sure my lungs were clear. Since I've missed a bit of work I wanted to work late and make up some time. As a result, I had to get from work into Harlem in about 35 minutes. Not a rush but cutting it pretty close.

My plan was to take the 6, hop onto an express at Grand Central, and then change back at 86th St. But I ended up waiting almost 10 minutes for a train at 23rd St, which threw a monkey wrench into my plan. I lucked out that I was right in front of the door when the train stopped, so I was able to squeeze on. Plan B was to take the 6 all the way. Unfortunately since this was the first train in a while, we got stuck at every station as commuters tried to maneuver in.

It took us 25 minutes to get to 59th St, and I knew I was screwed. I was the last doctor's appt of the day and I didn't want to be late. At 86th St I made the decision to jump out of the subway and take a taxi the rest of the way. I ran out of the tunnel and frantically hailed a cab. I told him the address -- 110st and 3rd. I had almost no cash with me, but now that taxis have those GPS thingies they take credit cards.

Except the cab I'd been picked up by didn't have the GPS. "Oh no," I said. "You don't take credit cards?" The cab driver shook his head no. "Let me see how much cash I have..." I looked in my wallet and found six mangled singles.

"I have six dollars. Will that get me to 110 st?" I asked. "We'll see how far that gets you," the driver replied. I leaned back as my leg shook with anxiety. There was nothing I could do but wait and see. And cough. Cough cough cough. (pause) COUGH cough cough cough. The running made my already sick lungs more out of breath.

I watched as the meter passed $4, then $5. We were only in the 90s, struggling through heavy traffic on 3rd Ave. We hit $6 at 101st St. I expected the driver to pull over and throw me out. Instead, he asked me "You only got $6, right?" Yes, I replied.

He shut off the meter and drove me the rest of the way. He shut off the meter! He dropped me off at my desired location, where I thanked him profusely and apologized for not being able to tip him. He told me to feel better. What a sweet driver! Nice things do happen sometimes.

I ended up having to wait at the clinic, but I didn't care. The doctor checked me out and declared me still sick, but with OK lungs.

Act 2 of good karma actually came at the end of last week. My apartment is finally (pretty much) done. Since moving in on August 18th, I had only used my stovetop/oven twice, and I'd stopped using my microwave in September when they put it on my stool because it was too tipsy. So I hadn't cooked in my apartment for 10 of the 11 weeks I've lived here.

On October 20th, one of the workers from the contractor's company came and put up my microwave. They did it wrong because no one was monitoring -- the microwave has a fan and light on the bottom and instead of mounting it on brackets above my stove they mounted it on a shelf -- making my fan and light useless, but at least it's up. I could finally cook!

That also meant it was time to pay rent. My non-Super had told me back in September to hold onto my rent until everything was done. Even though it wasn't perfect, I considered the apartment done enough. I called the non-Super four times over the next four days and never got a call back. All this rent money has been sitting in my bank account. If I had known it would have taken this long, I would have invested it in a short-term high-yield interest savings account.

Instead, my bank account balance has been deceptively high with rent money. I could have paid off my credit cards. I could have bought all the furniture I want. I could have bought the TV and speaker system and Xbox 360 I want. Or clothing. Or something else materialistic. But I've been good.

Home sick last Tuesday, I ran into my non-Super outside of my building. She asked when I could pay the rent and I told her to swing by on Nov. 1. I wanted to talk to her about a discount given everything I'd gone through but that was not the time. I was kind of dreading the conversation. I did not want to have a bad relationship with the non-Super, but I felt that I was on firm ground. I was afraid it would become an argument. Come the 1st, I tried calling her to arrange a pickup time but her voicemail was full. Argh. And yet I wasn't really surprised. My anxiety was prolonged.

On Friday she came by to collect the rent. I was incredibly nervous as I planned out how to ask for a discount. I showed her the microwave (she was upset about the shelf instead of brackets) and we discussed some other remaining issues, like the last tenant's name still being on the buzzer. Finally it was time to talk rent. I politely explained that I felt like since I couldn't use my kitchen since I'd moved in, I deserved a break on the rent.

I expected her to fight back, but instead she nodded and asked what I felt was fair. I proposed a half-month discount. She said that was fair. I probably could have asked for more given her response, but that's OK. I was just excited that I didn't have to fight about it. I wrote her a check for the rent owed minus the discount and all was good. Sometimes good things happen.

No comments: