It takes a special kind of person to live and work in New York City, especially if you’ve never lived there. I’m never surprised when I meet someone who came to The Big Apple from another part of the country under the illusion that it is as glorified as Hollywood tends to make it, only to find out the horrible truth that no, you can’t simply hop on the subway from the Upper East Side and be in Brooklyn in five minutes, or live in a lavish penthouse apartment on an entry-level salary, or afford to have a massive entire closet dedicated to top shelf designer clothes and shoes. Girls who are fresh out of college in their early twenties who grew up watching shows like Gossip Girl or Sex & the City are usually the biggest offenders of this disillusion, but they’re not the only ones.
Those without the type of thick skin required to live and work here usually don’t last long after their first rent check bounces, or they get their first $50 bar bill for a single round of drinks, or the first time they get inappropriately rubbed up on the subway by a homeless man with a massive erection (I know what you’re thinking, and yes that last one did happen to me). Those rude awakenings that can happen to you every day, paired with just flat out having a bad day in general or finding out something traumatic, can make for witnessing some pretty amazing public meltdowns.
I went out to lunch one afternoon after having a pretty slow morning. In my industry, and in this neighborhood, it’s pretty standard practice on a Friday to go have a few drinks with lunch, so my co-worker and I decided to do just that at a pub around the corner. While we were sitting there watching ESPN highlights and pretending to tolerate each other, I noticed a guy on the other side of the corner on his cell phone asking someone on the other end to wish him luck. He looked to be about in his mid-thirties, wearing a nice suit, clean cut, and generally seemed pretty pleasant, but nervous.
When he hung up the phone, he started to strike up a conversation with the guy next to him.
“My fiancé.” he said nervously to the random bar patron. “I’m about to go in for a big meeting.”
I tuned in and out of the conversation, but from what I got from it, he and his fiancé lived out in San Francisco and were hoping to move here. I got the impression that the meeting seemed like a performance review, at which he was going to bring up coming to his company’s New York branch. He was babbling on about some promotion opportunity that the move was banking on and then went into this whole bit about his upcoming wedding and how much money he was in the hole for. At one point he went into a whole story about what a hard time he had getting here and how he’d gotten lost in the subway, a saga that most average New Yorker’s experience on a daily basis.
As nice as this guy seemed, you could tell his nerves were getting to him. Also, as pleasant as he was, I hate overly chatty people who don’t recognize when others, like the guy next to him, just clearly don’t care or want to talk to them and just keep rattling off verbal time wasters anyway. Let the guy watch TV and enjoy his lunch and shut up.
He eventually got up, asked the other guy to wish him luck, and walked out attempting to exude confidence. The other guy’s first words as soon as the door closed were, “What a fucking douchebag.”
We wrapped on lunch shortly after and went back to the office.
About an hour after we got back, I went down to go get a pack of gum from the bodega down the street, and as I was passing by the little public court yard outside the building a few doors down, I looked to my left, stopped dead in my tracks, and witnessed the following scenario:
That same guy, who was so calm and talkative in the pub earlier about his budding opportunities and bright future, was now pacing in the courtyard with his hands out, suit and hair disheveled, breathing heavily, frantically expanding and contracting both of his fists. After witnessing a couple of seconds of this manic behavior, he added to it and, in full view of at least ten other people in the courtyard, began to shout, “Get it together, Frank! Get it together! It’s all in your head! It’s all in your head, Frank! Of course it is! She’s not! She’s just not! She’s not fucking him, Frank! She’s not fucking him! It’s in your mind, Frank! It’s in your mind! She’s not! She’s not fuck-GHA! GOD! CHRIST! SHE’S FUCKING HIM!” before he finally lost whatever shred of control he had left and went storming off down the block in a fit of sheer lunacy while screaming in what can only be described as the language of pure, unbridled rage.
As I stood there in complete and utter astonishment, watching a man who had completely lost it briskly and passionately speed-walking down the street, I was left with so many questions to ponder: What happened at his meeting that led to this moment? Who was his fiancé fucking, and how did he come to this conclusion only an hour after speaking with her prior? Were the two subjects somehow related?
I never did get to find out what happened to poor Frank on that fateful day, but upon my return to the office to share what was surely a confusing yet hilarious thing to witness with my colleagues, it was determined that he would not be visiting New York City again any time soon.