chelsea cookSometime not too long ago I was reminded of working in an office in New York City. I had just graduated from high school and this was an adventure I could
not possibly turn down. At that point in my life, Oklahoma City was the largest city I had been in and I found later the NYC young people did not have a high
opinion of that small town. I knew from movies and what little TV I had seen that NYC was big. It was actually one of the three largest cities in the world
but when you have no frame of reference, statistics on a mammoth scale are fairly meaningless. What was meaningful was that exactly one week after
graduation I was on a Greyhound bus to The Big Apple. Hmmm? I am not at all sure they called it that way back then. But it didn’t matter, I was 18 years old and  headed for adventure.
I was advised, and went, to an employment agency. I figured on not getting a job right away because I was from the sticks. The opposite seemed to have been true.
I was sent on a job interview and got the first job I interviewed for. Back in Oklahoma grown men with families could not find work but, being greener than a
March apple, I never really knew that I had defied all odds. The employment agency man just looked bemused when I told him I planned on working the summer  and returning to start university in September. He did a nudge-nudge wink-wink with me as he explained that fact was not “their” business as I might decide to  stay forever. Being somewhat smarter than Gomer Pyle, I agreed that was a possibility and we both grinned largely.
Having no experience working in an office, I had to learn everything the hard way. Fortunately, a Southern accent was a good thing and they all thought I had one.
Actually, I did not think I had any accent but they all sounded strange. Being different from the typical NYC teenager was sometimes a benefit. I thought their customs  were as strange as they thought mine were. There were several young people working in that office and an adjoining office for the same company. They marveled at my  desire to see everything NYC had to offer. Most Monday mornings I was asked where I had been and what I saw. Ready for this? Most of the ones I talked to had not been  to see the Statue of Liberty or had been on the Staten Island Ferry nor been to see the Empire State Building. That marvelous structor was actually within easy walking distance  from our office but, and this is only a guess, when you are programed to take the subway wherever you wish to go, walking is not something you do very often if you do not have to.
There was such a sense of excitement to this country boy that i enjoyed the crowds and the impossible to process different type people one saw even on a short walk. Riding the subway  to work the first time was a study in nerves. Not wanting to appear to be the country bumpkin, I had been tutored ahead of time as to my stop and directions from there. Getting off the subway,  finding a street and definitely knowing which way to go was one too many for me. I saw a policeman so, of course the local friendly police guy would know where 59 Maiden Lane was. So I asked him and he snarled, grouched and mumbled something that I had to interpret. NYC police guys were also much different from the police guys back in Henryetta, Oklahoma. Then, of course, the next morning everything looked totally different and I still haven’t figured that out, but it was true. So I asked the policeman again. Same one, not nearly as friendly as the day before. The third morning as I came up from the subway, he spotted me heading across the street. He turned and walked off  quickly. I fooled him, however, I was lucky enough to go the correct way without help.
Some of my brother-in-law’s family came directly from Greece. Uncle Nick had even fought against the Turks. His story of having no chest hair was that a Turk had cut it off with his sword.
Of course I was amazed and believed every word.  It was true he had fought the Turks but he was very frightened of the American Indians. It was fun to tell him wild stories  to  scare him some more.
But my greatest adventure was seeing and swimming in the ocean for the first time off Montauk Point, Long Island.  Country boys don’t get do that very often