Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Catch a Thief

The first month I lived in New York I was robbed. Don’t get too excited. The theft didn’t involve my purse, wallet, cell phone, or anything half so valuable or even as inconvenient. No, the item stolen from me was a plastic drawer. I guess if you want to get technical about it, it was a plastic drawer with a set of bed lifts inside it.

On a shopping trip for my new apartment, I bought the plastic drawers (there were two initially) from a Bed Bath and Beyond on 6th Avenue and 18th Street along with a set of bed lifts. My plan was to maximize the space in my 9x4 sq ft bedroom by using the bed lifts to raise the bed so the drawers fit underneath for extra storage.

Sheets were kind of pricey at BB&B, so I decided to take a look at what the TJ Maxx one floor up had to offer. I purchased the drawers and immediately regretted my decision to buy them first. They were bulky had to be carried by makeshift rope handles the guy at the door made for me and the other idiots who didn’t shop for such things online and have them delivered to their apartments like the rest of New York.

It was an amateur shopper’s mistake, like purchasing shoes before clothes and realizing you have to lug the heavy shoe boxes around the mall all day or make an extra trip back to your car. Having no choice at this point, I carried the drawers up the escalator and toward the back of TJ Maxx where they keep the bedding.

Then I made a second amateur shoppers mistake. I set them down to browse.

Periodically, I checked back to see that my plastic drawers had not wandered off on their own accord. To be honest, it was completely inconceivable to me that anyone would take one. They were pretty cumbersome. (And plastic drawers!)

After a few minutes, I guess I became engrossed in queen size thread counts. Then I couldn’t decide on the sky blue or spring green. I was still mulling it over when I looked up and noticed, one of my drawers was gone.

At first I wasn’t worried. Some shopper had moved over it to fit her cart through the narrow isle, probably. But a quick search behind the shelves told me that wasn’t what had happened. Then I thought, maybe one of the workers saw it and decided it was a bomb threat. This is New York, after all. You can’t just leave unsecured packages in public places. They’re a security violation.

So I asked one of the employees.

“A plastic drawer?” she asked. I’m sure she thought she must have misheard me.

“Yeah, like this one.” I gestured to the remaining twin.

“Nuh uh. Haven’t seen it.”

“Well, will you let me know if you do?”

“Uh huh,” and she went back to sticking price labels on duvet covers. I felt less than reassured.

At this point I was pretty much convinced the drawer had vanished into thin air. That was the only conceivably plausible explanation for what had happened. Like so many socks in the dryer, my drawer was just gone. Not knowing what else to do, I went back and got the sheets. Spring green.

The line at TJ Maxx, like the line of every place you go in New York, was horrendous. I think I waited fifteen to twenty minutes to buy those sheets. I’ve as long to buy toothpaste at the pharmacy. Sometimes groceries take half an hour, and I wonder if maybe I’m actually in communist Russia, but I digress. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, I’ve purchased my sheets and head back down the escalator carrying my lone drawer and feeling more than a little bewildered.

Should I go buy another drawer? Should I make do with one? What about the bed lifts—now those were gone, too. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow to call the store. Surely they will have found it by then…

It was at that moment standing at the bottom of the escalator and trying to decide whether or not to go back into BB&B, that I saw her.

Riding from the same TJ Maxx at the top of the escalator was very nice looking woman. She was wearing heels and expensive looking clothes. She was in her early to mid thirties, she was average height, brunette, white, and she was carrying my drawer!

Ok, at this point, I wasn’t 100% that this was really my drawer. In fact, I was pretty sure this was going to be one of those situations where I make a rash judgment call and end up feeling pretty dumb about it later, like in the movies when someone sees her boyfriend out at dinner with another woman, runs up and throws alcoholic beverages at them only to find out it’s his sister or cousin or oddly young looking mother.

At the same time, I had to know! Was this nice looking lady was secretly a low-down drawer thief?

“Excuse me,” I stopped her to talk a few feet in front of the escalator. She paused impatiently and looked at me a way I’d seen many New Yorkers look. Like I was about to ask her for directions and she was going to give them to me, but refused to be happy about it.


At that moment, I almost lost my nerve. I had very little to begin with. I mean, what were the odds that this woman had really stolen my drawer? She didn’t look the type. She was in heels, for one thing, which meant she cabbed it a lot of places. That, and judging by the labels on her clothes, I could tell she definitely wasn’t hurting for drawer money.

I was just about to mumble a “Never mind” when I glanced down and saw…. My bed lifts. The bed lifts I’d purchased with the drawer and stuck inside because they’d be easier to carry that way.

True, there was a chance that this woman also had need of a plastic drawer and also purchased said plastic drawer at BB&B and also heading to TJ Maxx afterward in about the same time frame as I. But there was less of a chance that she ALSO purchased some bed lifts and stuck them inside said drawer. This was definitely MY PLASTIC DRAWER!

What happened afterwards was truly one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.

I asked to see her receipt.

“I’m sorry?”

“Your receipt. You stole that from me.”

Of course, she said she didn’t know what I was talking about. I gestured to my remaining drawer and showed her my receipt which said I’d purchased two drawers and the bed lifts, the same ones that were in her drawer. Now if this was really her drawer, where was HER receipt? This is where it gets weird.

She didn’t have a receipt. Because this drawer wasn’t hers. It was her cousin’s. She was just holding it for her cousin. Her cousin bought a drawer but there must have been a mix-up and her cousin must have grabbed mine by mistake. Gee, she wondered what happened to her cousin’s drawer.

“I don’t believe you.” I wasn’t sure who was speaking at this point, because it didn’t feel or sound like me.

“No, really, my cousin—“

“Look, security’s up at the top of the escalator. Do I have to call them?”

“Ok, fine. But still I don’t know what happened to my cousin’s drawer.”

In the cab back to my place, I was shaking. Not really in fear, just, the adrenaline and the ridiculousness of the thing.

I mean, the lady was batshit crazy. And I’d just tried to reason with her. A part of me wondered if that made me crazy, too.

She had the gall to take a drawer and not only that, but to walk around the same store with it for twenty minutes while I bought my sheets, just browsing… Then to lie the way she did. Completely straight faced.

It’s unnerving when people lie to you even though you both know, beyond any doubt, the truth of the situation. It’s disorienting. By the time she left I was half convinced her cousin had asked her to hold onto it for her! Looking back, I know that’s ridiculous, but the look on her face… I’m almost sure that by the end of our conversation she nearly believed it herself.

In a city this big, it’s a mix. You have your good people – I saw a guy once lunge forward savior-style to toss a woman her dropped glasses through the subway door right before they closed. But then again, you also have your crazy kleptomaniacs that’ll steal a plastic drawer from under your nose.

And finally, you have the guy dressed in an Elmo suit in Times Square that falls somewhere in between…

Monday, October 5, 2009

Apparently Employment Wasn't Just a Myth

So, I got a job. A real one. With benefits. And vacation days. In other words, a big person job!

I won’t go into too much detail here just to be safe, but it’s with a book publishing house and my title is Production Assistant. I started October 1st and have been too busy dancing on rainbows of happiness to write an update until now.

Don’t worry. I’m not obnoxious enough to go off on a tangent with advice for people still searching— I know it’s a crapshoot. We’re all doing the same things. All I can say is, best of luck to anyone still hunting!

And, to those of you who think this means I’ll stop spamming you with fb notifications about new posts… Ha.

My job is very entry level and as such pays very little, especially when compared to the cost of living here. So, I am still poor and in New York, shamelessly self-promoting my writing. It turns out book production has very little to do with that, unless you count handwriting labels on file tabs.

Coming soon: stories about the Union Square sk8ter boyz, Central Park celebrity sightings and how I’m going to survive The Coldest Winter in a Decade in my H&M pea coat.