Tag Archives: New York Times “Metropolitan Diary”

Dude, I Got Fired!

The New York Times‘ “Metropolitan Diary” usually offers up cute, only-in-the-city tales about taxi drivers, museum guards and  — earlier this year — Westporter Catherine Onyemelukwe’s encounter with a Nigerian saleswoman at Bloomingdale’s.

Last week, there was a much different type of story. In the words of former Westporter Rod Serling, it is “submitted for your approval.”

Or disapproval.

Dear Diary:

After 15 minutes spent waiting in the rain with a dead phone, Robbie finally found me. We walked back to his place, a two-bedroom Harlem walk-up with a third bed in the main room that was made of plywood and inexplicably stood about 10 feet off the ground. It held a 20-something male whose connection to Robbie or his middle-aged father was never made clear.

spliffWe sprawled out on the couch and smoked a spliff, which was why I had agreed to come uptown this late, even though I had to be in Connecticut at 5 the next morning for work.

“I have to catch the train,” I eventually said, floating on air. “The last one leaves at 1:55.”

We walked to Harlem 125th, without umbrellas. By the time I was on the platform, I was bone-tired, soaking wet and very stoned. So much so, in fact, that I got lost in my thoughts and failed to board the train, even when a door opened inches away from me. I came to just as the train was leaving, and cursed loudly.

I had no choice; I got on a 2:05 train to Stamford, and there found a cab that would make the 30-minute drive to the Westport station, where my car was parked.

Ninety minutes, $75 and one headache later, I pulled into my parents’ driveway. The clock on the kitchen counter read 3:30, half an hour before I was supposed to wake for work. I decided to stay up and wait out the time, sat down on the couch, and promptly passed out until 7:30.

I was fired.

Westport And Nigeria Meet At Bloomingdale’s

The New York  Times’ “Metropolitan Diary” describes random incidents in the city. It’s the Big Apple equivalent of “06880”: anything is game, so long as it happened within the boundaries of the city (or, for this blog, town).

Today’s “Metropolitan Diary” is a double-dipper.

The story comes from a Westporter. Catherine Onyemelukwe writes about needing an eyebrow pencil at Bloomingdale’s. She’s helped by a petite black woman.

Eventually, Catherine asks where the saleswoman is from. When she says “Nigeria,” Catherine asks, “What tribe?”

The story continues:

 This wasn’t a ques­tion she ex­pect­ed from a white woman. “Ibo.”

“I na su Ibo? Do you speak Ibo?” I said.

“Oh my God,” she said to the sales­woman be­side her. “She speaks Ibo.”

She turned back. “Why, how … are you mar­ried to an Ibo man?”

“Yes,” I said.

Catherine Onyemelukwe met her husband  Clement while serving with the Peace Corps in Nigeria in the 1960s. (Photo/Suzanne Sheridan)

Catherine Onyemelukwe met her husband Clement while serving with the Peace Corps in Nigeria in the 1960s. (Photo/Suzanne Sheridan)

She drew me away from the cash reg­is­ter and said: “I just took my chil­dren to Ni­geria for the first time. They loved it. Ev­ery­one was so warm and wel­com­ing. It was dif­fer­ent from the U.S.”

“I know,” I said. “You re­mind me of the sense of be­long­ing I felt in Ni­geria for so many years.”

She had a cus­tomer wait­ing. I bought the eye­brow pen­cil and the shiny box of per­fume and cream. “Please come back. You don’t have to buy any­thing,” she said as she dou­ble-bagged my pur­chases.

“I will,” I promised.