Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On A Hot August Day In The Heights

You know how sometimes you could do something so completely jerky, you wonder how you had it in you? Well, maybe you don't know. That's what happened to me yesterday, anyway.

It was my first day in the Heights. I got to my apartment a little before 12. A guy from Ikea was supposed to come and build my Ikea furniture, but I wasn't sure when exactly he was coming. Because of that, I could not leave my apartment.

However, since it was only my first day there, I did not own any food. None of my apartment mates were around. I figured the Ikea guy would come soon enough anyway, (he was supposed to come between 12 and 2) so I stuck around the apartment instead of going to Key Food to buy stuff to eat.

The Ikea guy came at three and left at five. By that point, I had basically fasted the entire day, aside from my quick bowl of cereal at nine in the morning. I literally felt like passing out. Luckily, my good friend D2 invited me for dinner.

On the way to D2's apartment, I passed a young Jewish guy, probably around my age, lugging two big chairs along the sidewalk. Now, not only did the chairs look heavy, but the heat that day (like every day recently) was overbearingly oppressive. "Humid" is an understatement. The guy stopped for a rest and looked like he could really use a glass of water, or a bed, or a personal air conditioning installed in his clothing (wouldn't that be an awesome invention?), or, I dunno...some HELP, maybe?

My gut instinct said, "Ask him if he needs help!"

Meanwhile, there were still a number of feet between us - too many for me to say anything to him just yet. It was know that really awkward situation where you see someone you know all the way down the street and you both acknowledge each other with a smile or something, but then you have a minute or two of walking before you can actually start talking to each other, so you both walk towards each other and you don't know if you should keep smiling at the other person or not look at them for a minute or what? Or when you're both waiting for the light at an intersection, but you're on opposite corners so you keep looking at each other but you're too far away to talk, and you're just standing there looking at each other for way too long?

Anyway, it was like that.

By the time I reached him, my brain had enough time to convince me that he might be insulted if I ask for help. What if he's one of those guys who thinks he can handle a simple thing like moving chairs? What if he'd never accept help from a girl because he's strong enough to do stuff like that by himself? Or what if he got the wrong message? What if he thought it was weird that I was talking to him? We don't know each other at all.

I gave him a sort of half smile when I got closer, and he nodded in acknowledgement (well, at that point we had both been staring at each other for at least two minutes, we might as well have acknowledged the fact), and then I walked passed him like a complete jerk, when he clearly could have used some help.

As soon as I walked passed, my gut instinct kicked in again (seconds too late - as always) and wiped away all the overthinking. "Get back there!" it said. "Help him!" But I felt too weird. The opportunity felt already missed.

And for the past two days, I have felt like a jerk. I wish I could apologize, but I have no idea who he is.

Things I learned from this experience:

1. My gut instinct is GOOD. It knows what it's talking about. Listen to it once in a while! (Or more often than that, if I really want to be smart.)

2. No matter if you know someone or not, always ask if someone looks like he/she needs help. Besides, you'd want help if it was you.

3. Don't overthink!

4. Don't overthink!

5. Don't overthink!

6. A missed opportunity will always remain missed. You can't go back. All you can hope for is another opportunity to make amends for the one you missed. And you only get those once in a while, if you're lucky. So take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, especially if it's one that allows you to be a nice person.

7. It's okay to talk to people who don't know you.

8. Being shy can sometimes come across as being cold, so don't be so shy all the time!

9. Stop thinking everything is weird. Just do what you feel is the right thing.

10. Call your apartment mates if you're stuck in the apartment and starving. They just might let you eat some of their food.

Anyway, if, by any miniscule chance, the guy in this post reads this blog - please accept my apologies for not helping you yesterday. I'm so sorry - I'm really not that much of a jerk. And I hope you were able to get the chairs to wherever they had to go!

...Do I get to stop feeling bad now?


  1. I know the feeling... The right thing to do is also the awkard thing to do, so we convince ourselves not to do it...
    Enjoy your new apartment!

  2. I <3 #'s 3-5! :) (Also, #9.)

    A missed opportunity will always remain missed. You can't go back. All you can hope for is another opportunity to make amends for the one you missed.

    ...and even that's not quite true. Missed opportunities are missed. If another one happens to come along, that's great, but the first one will always have been missed.

    Some people spend their whole lives trying to recapture something they've missed, never realizing that that's impossible. What's important is to just learn from whatever it was and move on.

  3. When it comes to doing something good for somebody else, ALWAYS GO WITH YOUR INSTINCTS.
    This is a lesson I continue to learn.
    You will get more chances, and you will feel better.
    Welcome to the 'hood.
    Now, when r u coming for Friday night ? ;)

  4. A pundit once said: "The saddest words in the English language are 'It might have been.'" Going to disagree. It only becomes sad if you keep looking backwards at what wasn't, at what you didn't do, and don't move forward towards what is waiting, towards times where you will do what you want/should. Don't beat yourself up for being human.

  5. What a thought. The guy probably thought you were in a rush, happens to people. Don't worry there will always be another opportunity!

  6. S - Totally. And thanks!

    Ezzie - I knew you'd like all of those. :)

    And of course.

    G6 - Thanks. You live in the Heights?

    ProfK - Very true, thanks.

    aN dY - I hope he thought so! (As opposed to thinking I am just very rude.)

  7. Yep.
    And we love company.
    Bring a friend ;)
    We don't bite (mostly b/c my food tastes better..... ).

  8. Note on G6's meals- they are out of the world! and make sure to shmuess it up, hit the lights off by accident, and do not step over the gold line!! ;-)

  9. Hopefully this won't unleash some sort of torrent of accusations of being sexist... but...

    Am I crazy for thinking that it would have been odd/unlikely for the guy to accept your help considering what you describe were heavy and cumbersome furniture items, as well as the heat?

    It would have been very sweet to offer, but unless I am grossly underestimating your strength/an average guy's graciousness, he most likely would have said, "No, no that's okay..." if that assuages your guilt at all. Of course, it may have been a nice gesture and a possible way to start some sort of conversation which is never a bad thing...

    Don't feel badly, Erachet. Your account reminds me of the many times I'm walking with the kids and someone either needs help opening the door of a store or carrying bags - instinctively I want to offer my help, but it isn't always realistic - so a smile of commiseration about that person's challenge usually truly passes muster.

  10. Am I crazy for thinking that it would have been odd/unlikely for the guy to accept your help considering what you describe were heavy and cumbersome furniture items, as well as the heat?

    Right, yeah. That's what was in my head, as well. I felt like it might seem a bit ridiculous if I offered to help. But then again, I probably could have done it, even if I'm not the choice helper in that situation... :)

  11. Erachet, not to make you feel bad, but who knows, maybe that man was your bashert, put there for you to meet?

  12. This reminds me of a similar (might be in a diff context) situation I was in yesterday. I was switching trains at Bleeker St station on my way to SpecialEd's wedding. There was a girl around my age who looked like she was about to pass out. I overheard her saying to an officer that her vision was blurry, and was having difficulty breathing- signs of dehydration (could have be topped with alcohol). I was debating whether to run up to the cop and say I am an EMT, out of Good Samaritan, but was afraid the cop would just drop her off in my arms and be like here you take care of her. Should I have called Hatzolah? Should I have taken control of the situation? NYPD definitely has higher authority than I do..but I am still questioning myself whether I should haveve said to the cop- let me call an ambulance before she goes under.