When I was either mugged or gave a stranger $160
“I’d been here maybe 5 weeks, staying on the floor of some friends who lived right off the 125th Street 1 stop in Morningside Heights. I was coming back from the interview at this hotel where I’d gotten a job as a bellhop -- which was good, because I was down to my last $200 -- listening to my iPod, feeling like I’d had my first New York triumph.
"I got off the train, and noticed this guy on the landing. And I remember thinking, it’s weird that guy’s just standing on the landing, let’s give this guy a wide berth. But as I walked past him, I had this feeling I’d bumped into somebody. I turned around, and it was the guy, standing right behind me, holding this pair of glasses, and I see one of the lenses is broken. He says, ‘Hey man, you broke my glasses.’ And I was like, ‘I’m sorry?’ And he’s like, ‘You broke my glasses. I just got these glasses fixed, so you owe me a new lens. Give me $150.’ And I said I really didn’t think I did, and also I didn’t have $150. But he kept advancing on me. At this point, we were on the street, right outside this bodega, so he tells me to go in and get $150 and bring it to him. And I was like... okay? But you can’t actually take out $150 from an ATM, so I took out $160, which meant that I now had $40 left in the world. I handed it to him, and he said, ‘Hey, thanks man!’ And then he gave me this big hug and walked away.
None of it made any sense at all. The only adults I knew in the city at this point were my friend’s parents. If I was at home and I’d called my parents, they would have been like, ‘okay, we’ll come and we’ll pick you up, and we’ll have an ice cream, and we’ll talk about what happened!’ But his parents were like, ‘Welcome to New York. Honestly, we’re glad this happened, because you can’t be walking around here all wide-eyed. You gotta be looking out for number one all the time.’” --Sam, 34