Josh and the City: Planes, Trains and Unexpected Curveballs

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Oh, what a week.

If you live in New York City, then you know how many millions of people rely on public transportation every day to get around. Likewise, if the train is delayed, so are the pedestrians riding it. If the train takes a spontaneous trip to the moon, there’s nothing anyone can do about it; they are riding at the mercy of the cheapest mode of transportation NYC has to offer.

And when the train shuts down altogether?

Well.

If I wasn’t previously added to the ranks of everyday New Yorkers in the past few months, the goal was accomplished this week. Allow me to share with you the semi-dramatic story that every other New Yorker has undoubtedly already experienced.

My orientation week at my new job ended rather unceremoniously: on my fifth day of work, the bus I take to the train station in order to get downtown decided not to show up. I waited for a half hour before calling into work to let them know that there was nothing I could do—I wouldn’t be there on time. When the bus finally came and took me to the train station, I sat on the train praying that something miraculous would happen and I would make it on time. I ended up being late but was luckier than I thought I would be: I was told that “it happens” and received thanks for calling in to make them aware of my lateness. I went on with my day and ended up having a good shift at work.

Then my next day of work came….and catastrophe struck again.

This time my bus was on time and I made it to the train with an hour until my shift started. I got on, rode it one stop, and looked up from my book when I heard the overhead message: “We apologize, but the train is going to be delayed as we are facing serious malfunctions.” This went on for ten minutes until the message eventually changed to, “We apologize, but the entire line has shut down. The trains are unable to move in either direction. Please find alternate transportation at this time.”

[Insert expletive here].

Basically, I couldn’t believe my luck. Actually, since my life feels like a TV show most of the time anyway, part of me could, but knowing that I had to be at work in 45 minutes and I was a mile and a half away from the express bus that left two minutes ago, all I could do was throw my hands up in the air. I was screwed. I had to call into work again to explain my situation and to apologize profusely. Even though we all knew it wasn’t my fault, my managers’ hands were tied; if I was late, I was late and it was my own fault.

Luckily, sometimes life throws us a curveball—the good kind. After departing the train and running to the previous stop, I called my aunt and ranted about my situation. She quickly strapped on her superhero gear (yes, cape and all) and made sure I was at work on time. Oh, excuse me, not on time—early! The managers were stunned that I not only made it down to the city well before I said I would be there but that I made it in record time! It was a minor miracle but a miracle just the same.

The Sunday School version of my tale would go something along the lines of, “Bad things happen, friends; do your best to overcome the obstacles and be thankful for those around you.” The truth is, surviving in a big city means that there are challenges that will end in triumph as well as ones that will result in failure. I experienced both this week with my commute and segue into a new job. Which brings me to a topic I’ve been contemplating a lot lately.

Another part of surviving in the big city (for an artist at least) is being able to pay for it. Ever since moving to New York, I have tried to find a balance between auditioning, maintaining a “survival job” and actually working in my field. I’ve heard both sides of the controversial statement “artists need day jobs to survive.” Some say that if you’re a true artist, you can find a way to live on next to nothing because you’re doing what you love. Others insist that you need to have money in order to support your artistic needs. As a Gemini, I see the value in both opinions and as an artist I’ve been trying to pick a side that works for me.

As in most cases (since I can rarely make a decision about anything), I have decided to create my own rules. I believe that the situation changes just as easily as the global-warmed weather does: sometimes you need a survival job to make ends meet while at other times that acting gig or art gallery is enough to sustain you for a while. Most artists will tell you that they are rarely “comfortable” with their position. In fact, some go so far as to say that if you become comfortable with your art, you’re a goner. I wouldn’t go that far, but I must admit that I enjoy being a young twenty-something if for no other reason than it gives me the societal “permission” that so many adults I’ve met seem to still long for: the ability to actively pursue my dreams and, even if I fail, the chance to learn from it and continue to grow. In my new job I meet people every day who actively desire to learn new things and take on new projects. I think it’s fantastic! We are all artists in our own way and we all have something to contribute in this crazy-fast world that often makes us feel like our individuality doesn’t matter.

(Can someone tell me when I became a prophesier? ‘Cuz I’m trying to figure that out…)

Despite what life throws at us, I know we all possess the ability to overcome the obstacles and dive headfirst into what we really want out of our experiences. If you don’t believe me, I urge you to consider this quote from the final episode of one of my favorite television shows, Brothers and Sisters:

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Did you notice how the topic of this column veered off track for a bit?

Yeah. So did my train.

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