Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

Traveling takes the blog out of me. I am well, I am in New York, I don't have a job, I am staying with friends.

All kinds of stuff has happened that you would know about if I had blogged it, but I'm just going to catch you up on the best part.

Leins Barthe is my hero. Chances are, you don't know him. Leins is from Haiti. Leins drives a cab. Leins saved my ass.

I realized, about three hours before leaving for Auckland International Airport, that I had no place to stay in New York, no money for anything, and no phone with which to call people in the Northern Hemisphere. I would arrive in New York at 9pm on Friday with nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one to call, holding two huge bags and my total personal worth of $400 cash. Unless I lined something up in three hours.

I sounded the Facebook Distress Call and, praise be, was heard. A friend who shall remain nameless set me up with his or her phone number, address and invitation to stay a spell. Two and a half hours later, I was on my way.

My air travel experience was something of a tragedy of errors, but I will skip ahead to the arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Luggage in hand, I stood before that eternal riddle which has plagued the minds of men from Socrates to Sartre to Scott: do I lug my bags on the subway to some godawful part of Brooklyn where I've never been and it's the middle of the night by now and godonlyknows how much walking I'll have to do BUT it's only $7, or do I get a cab?

So I'm in the cab telling my cabbie, one Mr. Leins Barthe, all about my life and such and how I don't have a phone yadayada and Leins offers me his for to call my anonymous generous friend, which I do, only to get a "number not available" message. Hrmm. Must have written it down wrong, I think aloud to Leins Barthe. Little did I know, it was actually the number for FORESHADOWING!!!

After circumnavigating the entire burrow of Brooklyn, Leins and I arrive at my destination. I hop out and buzz 1C. It does not buzz but my friend had told me that the buzzer did not work so I am comforted. I buzz other apartments until I get somebody and I explain that I am trying to get to 1C and their buzzer doesn't work so could you please come let me in or something. 1C, the other apartment person tells me, is vacant - the people who lived there just moved out.

That is when I become suspicious. I manage my way into the building and confront the door to 1C and give it a bit of the old knuckle. Audibly comes the scurry-shuff-shuffle of the people within. Hello? quoth I. Silence, quoth the door. It's Scott Peterson, quoth I. HubbubhubbubScottPetersonhubbub, quoth the door. Listen, I just got off a plane from New Zealand and I'm tired as shit and it's really late and I have almost no money because the fucking exchange rate fucking killed me and I have two huge bags and my cabbie is waiting outside with them and [NAME REDACTED] told me I could stay here and I literally have no place else to go because my American phone has been out of service for five months or something and this is the fucking ass-end of Brooklyn and there's no way I'm going to be able to hail another cab out here and I'm kind of freaking the fuck out because if you don't open this goddamn door I am going to be spending the night on the freezing streets, guarding my personal possessions with a nail clipper from the lusty advances of wild-eyed hobos and foaming crackheads so [NAME REDACTED], if you're in there, just open the mutherfucking door PLEASE, quoth I.

So I'm back in the cab telling Leins about the 10 minute monologue I had with the door and how the people behind it, whoever they are, refuse to acknowledge my presence. And to make a long night short, I ended up sleeping on the couch in the living room of the cabbie who picked me up from JFK, one Mr. Leins Barthe. The next day I take a shower and Leins takes me to go buy a phone and I call my friend Ross and line up space at his place and then we go back to Leins' and his daughter Lindsay makes me a papercraft flower which says "For: Scott From: Lindsay Barthe" and then Leins' cousin Reg drives me to Ross'.

God, it's good to be back.