Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Rely on Bed-Stuy to Shut it Down if I Die

When I told my mom I was looking at an apartment in Bed-Stuy she said, no way. She lived in then-cheapo Brooklyn Heights in the early 80's, when Bed-Stuy was probably thought of as the most dangerous neighborhood in BK - I mean, even more than today. So I did my best to convince her otherwise.

I saw the apartment, liked my prospective roomie, and moved in immediately. My first week or two was classic awful-arriving-in-New-York, full of crying, confusion, and despair - or as I fondly called it, the Bed-Stuy Blues. They were the worst when I got a call saying that my neighbor had accidentally opened my mail and it was now waiting for me at the 81st precinct.

I headed over to the station, nervous because there had just been a gunfight in which two cops killed a guy on Hancock, a street that was en route to my destination. Also nerve-wracking was a BBQ held a few days earlier where five people were shot, not far away from my humble abode. I was already having a frustrating morning and couldn't find the station and this lady that I asked for directions (which turned out to be wrong) asked me for money for diapers and I was (still am) absolutely broke and when I said no she badgered me and I started crying, and she shouted after me as I turned around, why are you crying lady? So I did not arrive in the best mood.

The lady cop was not nice to me. No, she was nothing like Lil Wayne describes officers of the female variety in "Mrs. Officer." She asked me, why is your mail here? I replied, um, I have no idea why my crazy neighbor opened my mail and sent it here, I just wanna pick it up and leave. As I filled out a form, Lady Cop asked, why do you live here?

I was all naive. Oh, well I went to school in New York, and all my friends moved to the city afterward, and I want to work here, I said.

She gave me a funny look. No, she said, why did you move here? To this neighborhood?

Excuse me? I thought. I wanted to scream at her, why do you think I live in this neighborhood? Because I enjoy the ambiance of people getting shot a few blocks away from me? I live here because I can't afford to live in Williamsburg like everyone else, meanie Lady Cop!

But I don't remember what I said. I probably just mumbled something about my apartment being the first one I found on Craigslist. Lady Cop took my info and grumbled about not being able to find my package. At one point I asked, isn't it illegal to open someone else's mail?

Yeah, I guess, said Lady Cop with a bored look. Sign here.

I cried to my mom afterward. Meggie, nobody smart becomes a police officer, she said.
In hindsight Lady Cop was probably just having a bad day and took it out on me. But if that shit happened to me today, you bet I'd give her a piece of my mind. I don't want to move to Billyburg anymore because I love where I live. This is my hood, too. I pay taxes. I shop at local stores. I talk to my neighbors and am on a first-name basis with everyone at the bodegas. I go to church (well, went once, I'd like to go again if I could get my ass up on Sunday mornings). So don't give me a hard time, I feel as weird about the hipsters moving in as everyone else. I'm Bed-Stuy and proud baby, so ha.

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