Last week I was in a taxicab in Seattle, headed into town from the airport. Suddenly the car in front of mine came to a stop. My driver cursed. He explained to me that the drawbridge was going up and it almost never goes up at "this hour". I do not hail from a land of drawbridges – despite living on an island in New York, there's a real dearth of water that's not hanging around in concave pavement or springing forth from a fire hydrant. (If you should see a thin rivulet of liquid trickling down concrete in Central Park, stay away. That's not water.) Thus, a drawbridge is a novelty for me. Not only did I not mind waiting – an unusual mental state for me in the back seat of a taxi – but I craned my neck to look at the boat in question.
My driver explained that on these rare days, when the bridge goes up before 9am, he likes to purchase a lottery ticket. I wondered what would happen if I did the same back home, on the opposite coast. Inconvenience is a part of the very air in New York, be it an infrequent hindrance such as an exploding manhole or a frequent hindrance such as missing your train because the person descending the steps in front of you decided to film a one-person stop-action film entitled Nimrod Descending A Staircase.
However, there is such a thing as being too self-contained; and so determined are we New Yorkers to prioritise our own comfort, we can throw the baby out with the muddy sidewalk water.
Thus I have resolved to take the next roadblock thrown my way in Manhattan and buy myself flowers right after. Or buy someone else flowers. It doesn't matter. Flowers are a ridiculous thing to buy on a spur-of-the-moment basis in Manhattan, so maybe I'll just buy someone gum and a muffin instead.
Either way, I'm still a better fit for New York than Seattle. For me, forced positive behaviour doesn't trigger a rash of positive thinking in general. But I will say that, as I sat in the back of that car, rolling down the window to take in some of the misty Northwest air, I found myself looking at the back of my driver's head and thinking: I really hope he wins.
Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)Reuse content