When I arrived at the apartment two weeks ago I found him standoffish and abrupt; rude almost. He was the doorman stroke night porter. A young-ish guy. Late 20s. Possibly early 30s. Very strong ‘New York’ accent. First generation American, hailing from Eastern Europe. Escaping the genocide.
He was rude bordering on abrupt back then. I think he saw me as so many in this apartment – as an overpaid, “wanker/banker” type. I’m not, though. I don’t work in finance. Far from it.
Over time we’ve become chatty. Very chatty. I don’t suppose I really know how or when it happened. It just happened. He is blue-collar. I suppose I’m what society in its desperate need to pass judgement and jury would call ‘white collar’. We don’t – on paper – have a lot in common.
And yet. I enjoy talking to him. And it seems to be mutual. We have ever longer conversations. We’re on first name terms now. He has a somewhat shy smile. He loves absolutely nothing more than to take the mickey out of my accent. But that’s OK. It makes me smile. And it’s done good-naturedly. I like the phrases he might use, be they ‘bud’ or ‘bro’. Things like that. Things you’d only hear on this side of the pond.
We spoke for a long, long time this evening. As we did yesterday evening. And the evening before. And he was charming with my relatives (who are randomly in New York) when they visited me at the weekend.
I wouldn’t claim to be ‘lonely’ but I am thousands of miles from home in a huge city. He offers a ray of light. A warmth. A friendliness to which I am drawn like a moth to the proverbial flame. It doesn’t feel contrived.
All sorts of people are living here. I don’t quite appreciate who. Quite famous actors. The sons and daughters of dynastic families. Rich foreigners. It’s bizarre, really. And then there’s little old me. Mr Normal.
I love making ‘random human connections’ with people. There’s something so incredibly life-affirming about it. Breaking out of your profoundly narrow, normal, usual, bubble. And meeting completely random, new people. Especially when you’re living in a foreign country. It’s like throwing the dice. You might just come up with double sixes.
I’m living my life in technicolor at the moment.