A New York State of Mind

I have decided to move to California after spending ten years in New York City. I’ve tried to make it work, but like many former New Yorkers I’ve finally decided to throw in the towel. I know for myself, I’ve never fully felt like I fit in. Apart from the sweltering summers, freezing winters, exorbitant cost of living and cramped living quarters, there is something else about New York that just doesn’t sit well with me. The New York Attitude. I’ve been trying to explain to my friends what I mean, but it’s been hard to put my finger on it exactly. Until now.

I don’t have an address yet in Los Angeles, but I need somewhere to forward my mail. So, I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if I could open a post office box in L.A. and forward my mail there? I called the Los Feliz branch of the post office in L.A. and asked if it might be possible to open a PO Box long distance. Bobby, the box clerk with a can do attitude, said he’s never done that before but why not? He said I would just need to go to a post office here in NY and have them validate my application and confirm my two pieces of identification. Then, send it along with a money order to him. Anyone who has lived in NYC can already imagine what kind of response I was going to receive at the NY post office.

“Oh, you can’t do that.”, was the box clerk’s response here at 10007.

I explained that Bobby had okayed it and all I needed was for her to stamp my application verifying my two pieces of identification. With great resistance and a continually shaking head, she proceeded to put forward a list of obstacles for me to overcome before she would even consider to agree to accept my application. Such as Bobby’s last name, the address of the post office in L.A., proof of my NY address, cost of the L.A. postbox and so forth. All the while, assuming I didn’t know this information and hoping I would just give up and leave her alone.

But not me. With a touch — well actually more than a touch — of patience and kindness and humor I addressed each of her requirements. And after an hour of waiting in lines, going to my bank for a statement, making copies of my IDs and filling out another form, she agreed to accept my application and even overlook the fact that I didn’t know Bobby’s last name — I couldn’t call to get it due to the time difference.

At first, when I told her I was moving to California, she rolled her eyes and said, Why would you want to do that?, but by the end of our exchange, she wished me well on my journey. We even shook hands in farewell. But, boy what a lot of work and unnecessary frustration her initial attitude raised.

It’s that New York Attitude of being put upon. Everything’s a burden and it can’t be done so don’t bother asking me to do something for you and anyway, you’re bothering me and I’m supposed to be on a break right now and why don’t you just go away and come back another day, like when I’m not working?

While in California, one simply says with a can do attitude, Sure, let’s give it a try.

California, here I come!

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