Over the last 4 years I've lived in 10 different apartments all over NYC, from Bedstuy to Harlem. Last month I moved to Washington Heights, on Saint Nicholas Avenue & 160th Street.
I've lived in some crazy neighborhoods. I've witnessed gang shootouts outside of my bedroom window on two occasions: once in Brooklyn and once in Harlem.
But Washington Heights seems to be a strange beast. My experience here so far can be wrapped in about a 2 minute experience.
It was around 7pm on a weekday. I was buying coconut water in a Rite Aid a few blocks from my apartment. For some reason there's a really long line, and everyone in the line was gossiping to the cashiers like they knew each other––mostly in Spanish.
There was a guy ahead of me dressed like an extra in a rap music video whose wardrobe got cut out of the budget. He dressed like he really wanted people to think he was rich––plastic gold watch, shiny gold accents on his black shirt, fake Air Jordans, etc.
The cashier was trying to ring him up, but his card wouldn't work. They tried over and over, but she finally said the store had put a block on this card, and he couldn't use it.
He negotiated with her for a few seconds, until finally––with a mischievous grin––went into his back pocket.
This dude––swear to god––pulled out a wad of hundred bills, easily $5,000. Cash, in his pocket. He dropped a $100 bill on the counter. The cashier––as confused as I was––looked at the money, looked at him, then back at the money, until finally she said "I need to speak to the manager."
I got called over to another cashier and paid for my coconut water.
I left the Rite Aid amused. I took a left on Saint Nicholas to go towards my gym. There's this really confusing intersection there where a bunch of one-ways meet each other, so I awkwardly hopped across the street and started walking on the sidewalk next to a one-way going the same way I was––north.
Everything's fine. I'm listening to the new David Goggins audiobook and I'm ready for leg day. Until suddenly I look to my right and see this beat up beige Oldsmobile driving down the one-way towards me––the wrong way on the one-way.
The guy rolls down his window and waves at me with a big smile on his face. He seemed like a happy guy, driving nice and slow, like he knew damn well he was driving the wrong way and didn't care. The sidewalks were full, no one else seemed to care either.
He made it to the intersection where I assumed he'd move over to an appropriate street he could actually drive down. Instead he just continued driving down the wrong one-way.