The City that never sleeps (cos you can't)

I landed on my ass – HARD. Jet lagged and grumpy, I was jolted out of my sleepiness with a rude bump – Literally! I had barely arrived in New York before my grandiose plans of living it up in the Big Apple unraveled.

The journey began just over fifteen hours ago. Adrenaline pumping and filled with expectant excitement, I had boarded my flight bound for the city that never sleeps. I was NY bound on an all expenses paid 90-day work assignment. Hurrah!

The voyage begun uneventfully enough but meticulous organisation soon disintegrated upon disembarkation. My pre-booked taxi was a no show. Pinching myself to keep awake (bearing in mind that it was now 3am GMT, the last time zone I was in), I waited for 30 minutes before resigning myself to a long taxi queue for New York’s iconic yellow cabs.

I sighed in relief as I finally got to sit down on the plush (well kind of) leather seats. But of course (even though I didn’t know it yet), I was just at the beginning of the onset of Murphy’s Law. You guessed it – I was caught in a forty-five minute traffic jam replete with incessant horning and expletive laden exchanges. Not music to my 5 a.m. ears!

I was meant to pick up the keys to my apartment from a property agent. Needless to say, they had misplaced my posted security deposit cheque and insisted that I didn’t pay. After a further thirty minutes of tiresome haggling, cajoling and begging, I managed to convince them that I was actually a corporate traveller as opposed to a disheveled hobo. They grudgingly opened their mailbox and viola, I was actually telling the truth – the cheque was there! Thank God! I was now one step closer to a comfortable bed.

I stepped into the flat. The floor was thick with grime and the lone light bulb flickered – a far cry from the pristine photographs I had seen online. My own fault for not having read the online reviews properly. Still, I was too exhausted to burst into tears. I took a shower and prepared to fall asleep in front of the telly.

The shower trickled like old man’s piss but at least it was warm. I changed into my PJs and flicked on the TV. Despite promising cable television, there were only three Spanish channels and no, Spanglish was not one of the movies showing.

I could not believe how my trip had turned out so far. I staggered backwards to the bed and sank into it – could my day (and night) get any worse?

Crack, crush, bang, the bed frame broke. My arse hit the ground with a resounding thud.

Sleepiness turned into shock, which erupted into rage and gave way to overwhelming defeat. It was too late to call the agents to shout at them. I changed into my jeans and sweatshirt. It was a sign that sleep would evade me tonight. At least I was within walking distance to Times Square.

The great screens flashed and the lights dazzled my eyes. Steam was rising from the manholes, and yellow taxis whizzed by. The Naked Cowboy was doing his jig. The sidewalk was bustling with activity and teeming with life. I was filled with wonder and amazement. It was atmospheric to say the least. New York City I have arrived!

As Charles Dickens said – “It was the best of times, it was the worse of times”. This was such a time…

G Hui

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