A sightseer from Arizona ambushed me on Sixth Avenue during evening rush hour last week, asking for directions to “the pier.” I asked which one. She didn’t care. Realizing this was someone who mostly wanted to stand around in the hustle and the bustle (and the heat) to chat about anything, I pointed westward and told her to walk in a straight line until she hit the river.
The “walk in a straight line” business could explain why she then confessed she’d just had two glasses of wine. I’m glad she came clean about the drinking (and yes, Virginia, there really are people who get bombed from 2 weak drinks) because it made me more patient. Until she asked how much rent I pay.
Whenever someone I’m not extremely close to asks: (1) how much rent I pay; or (2) how much money I make, I tell myself the next time it happens, I’ll chuckle it off and say, “We don’t talk about money, darling.” But I always end up blurting out the exact dollar amount, forever taken aback by either question when it comes.
She needed to know what I do for a living, which is such a Northeast Corridor thing to ask someone you’ve known for less than 5 minutes. When I said I was an editor, she lit up.
“For who?” she asked, and I told her that too.
“Never heard of it,” she answered, in a tone and with a frown suggesting it was my fault she hasn’t heard of it. Which, given one of my many job duties, it very well might be. Knowing the salary question was up next, I gave her a big smile, wished her luck, and walked a little faster toward my humble (in terms of everything but price) abode.