The Kindness of Strangers In A Foreign Land

It’s not often that I feel unsafe. And who knew, that travelling in the world’s most ‘exciting’ city could make you feel so vulnerable.

New York

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My work trip to New York, (or rather Hoboken, but I had to travel into New York most days) was nothing short of being phenomenal. I finally got to meet my team (after working with them remotely for over a year and a half) and they were everything I could hope for and more. Whilst I was there, I also got to meet all the people that I’ve been emailing. And every single person was nothing short of awesome. For context, I work in Melbourne, my developers are in the US, the Operations team is in the UK and the business I represent work in Melbourne, Brisbane and Singapore. If I wanted to, I could work 24 hours. But the aim (as everyone keeps reminding me) is not to work around the clock but make the few hours that I do, have more of an impact. I’ve already reduced the number of long hours, but we are going into a busy period….but I digress.

After the long trek, I was asked to take some time to visit (or told to relax… gosh I see a trend forming) the states as this was going to be my first ever visit. With the help of my awesome friend Louis Cooper, it was time to do a short trip along the East Coast. I started in Washington D.C., up to Baltimore, then to Philadelphia and back to New York.

Before I kicked off my work week, I did as much sightseeing in New York city as I could. I went so far as to have the bottom half of the island completed. If you want to read more, you will need to check that post out (coming soon).

Washington D.C.

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Washington D.C.? Geez Louise! 2 days was not enough. I spent 3.5 hours in each of the museums that interested me. The Natural History and the Aerospace museums. A separate post on each of those are called for. And if anything, I intend on doing a photo gallery so you can enjoy walking through the museum yourself.

The only thing I was sad about is that I stopped at Capitol Hill and didn’t go just a little bit further to see the White House. Know when I realised? When I was back home and questioning why I couldn’t find the White House in my photos… ah well. It was only when Google automatically sorted the photos by the geo-tagging did I realise…oh right, didn’t make it there. Guess it means I need to go back, right?

Baltimore

Baltimore. What can I say. I think this was the first time I truly felt unsafe. Let me add context. In New York, a lot of people mistook me for a cop. This predominantly came from tourists but the colour combination I had chosen made it seem like I was someone in authority. Turns out a blue jacket, black pants and a beanie makes you look like a police officer. After turning away four lots of tourists, I took off my beanie and bore the cold until I could step on the path train into work. Even underground, the station was freezing. In New York I was being mistaken for a cop. I get to Baltimore and I have multiple people giving me the stink eye. Between being called “a brother”, “a pig” or being asked to “help a ni**a out”, I was unsure whether to use my Australian accent, use the Hoboken accent that bubbles thought me (“I don give ah fook”) or use the deep tones to throw them off. I saw a guy walking around with handcuffs to his belt and a knife that had a blade as long as my forearm. You know just walking. Had I not smiled and wished him “top of the morning”, the look on his face would not have dissipated from a scowl to a smile. To be honest, I would not have seen the blade in time. I witnessed 3 drug deals and one scene where cops were preparing to enter a home.

And all of this? Was on the way to Edgar Allan Poe’s graveyard.
However, here’s where I ran into Jane. A retired school teacher from North Carolina, we spoke in depth about our love for Poe, about her upcoming trip to Australia (Jane, you have my details – please don’t hesitate to get in touch) and everything in between. We journeyed together to Edgar Allan Poe’s house and it was wonderful. Her teacher voice and my recanting of volunteering with the Emergency Services back home in Melbourne made at least one person stop following us.

Jane was gracious to share her dinner with me at an Afghan restaurant. Man-oh-man was the food delicious and will be covered in it’s own (coming soon) blog post. And during that time we spoke about everything – life, loves, family, work and our own personal struggles. The world would be a much better place if we were all willing to be open like Jane and I was that day.

And the other thing that made me realise I was no longer in Melbourne? When I was getting off my flight from LA to JFK, I noticed that I had managed to cut off a couple of kids, both of whom looked less than 10 years old, from trailing behind their Mum. They stopped and looked up at me…either in shock or just being courteous. But I stood back and let them through and they rushed off behind their Mum. The air hostess immediately remarked, “you’re not a local, are you?”. “Nope, I’m from Melbourne”. “A New Yorker would not have given them way. You’re clearly too kind”

And what’s up with the medical commercials…..

The other thing I noticed was their drug commercials. I honestly thought it was meant to be a pisstake like the Chaser Boys we have here in Australia.

Here’s an example of one, because I couldn’t find a latest one.

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But it's something to do with their laws that they need to be completely transparent. Listening to their adverts it made me think… bloody hell, I'd rather suffer in silence with the issues I had.

Philadelphia

The most amazing philly cheesesteak and the awesome Rocky statue. Yeah – it’s own post is definitely needed.

However, after all of that, I came to quite a few things I wanted to resolve. And I learned a few solid lessons along the way. I’ll keep that for a separate post.

For now, I thought I would say Hello – give you all an update of where I have been and tell you about the amazing things that are coming ahead!

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