Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tiffany the beggar

Rewind 5 months. It was a May weekend. The weekend that we were hosting a family reunion here in AZ. My cousin Alex was in charge of bringing the chips and salsa to dinner so he asked my sister and I to drive him over to On the Border to pick up some of that deliciousness. Those chips and salsa are so good.

So we parked in the OTB parking lot and Al went in to order and get the stuff. So, Kay and I were just sitting in the car listening to music when we see a young woman looking into the car and slowly approaching. She was completely "normal" looking. Just a clean, shirt and jeans, hair in a nice pony, 20-something year old. She approached my window so I rolled it down halfway. She kept her distance as to not be threatening. And she started by saying, "I'm not crazy. My name is Tiffany and I promise I'm not crazy or homeless or anything. All of the women I have talked to have been really mean to me. I am in a bad situation and my boyfriend and I got in a fight and he just left me here. I'm new to the area and don't know anyone that can help me. I'm so sorry to bother you. But I just called Discount Cab to see how much it would cost to get me home. I would need another $16 to get there. I thought that maybe you girls could help me out."

Kailey and I had both left our purses/wallets back at the house so we honestly didn't have any cash we could give her. I told her that I believed she wasn't crazy and I was sorry and really wish I could help her. She had a look of desperation in her eyes and I genuinely wished there was something I could do for her. It was over 100 degrees out that day and she had no where to go. I was worried about her the rest of the day.

Now back to present day (well, a few weeks ago)....my sister Kimmie and I walked out of the grocery store and started loading our groceries into the trunk. I saw someone out of the corner of my eye watching us and eventually started approaching us. Once she got close enough I could tell she looked familiar but couldn't exactly place her. Then she smiled and started talking..."Hi, I just want to tell you first that I'm not crazy. I just need help and all the women I have talked to have been really mean to me..." That clicked with me right away. I stopped her and said "yeah, you approached me a few months ago...you're trying to get somewhere right?" She got defensive and said "no, I didn't approach you. That wasn't me. My name is Tiffany and I need to get home... my boyfriend just left me here and I'm new to the area (right back into her script) so I just called Discount Cab and I will need $16 to get home..." She used the same EXACT story! We went back and forth and she wouldn't admit that she used this story before. I finally said sorry we can't help you today. And left.

I've been thinking about it since. I will usually use my discretion and help people with a dollar or two when it seems that they are really in need. I am in no place to judge others so if I can help them then I will. But this girl pissed me off. I'm not stupid...I know that most people begging for money are lying about their situation. But like I said...who am I to judge? Can't you just feel bad for people without them lying to you?

Are there any people out there that actually need help and don't lie about it? What about when someone actually does run out of gas and needs a few dollars to get home? Is anyone going to believe them? Do people do this for like a full time job? Do people actually give a random person that comes up to them in the parking lot $16? Isn't that dangerous?

So this Tiffany girl obviously does this for a living. She has it figured out. She plays specifically to women who will feel bad for her. She has the exact amount to ask for that will make her a lot of money but won't be too much for people to give. And she just hits up all the parking lots in the whole area. The two places that she approached me at were about 8 miles apart. So she just makes her rounds and lies to people.

I thought about my stand on this situation and decided that no stranger should ever need to ask for more than $3 from someone. $3 could get you a meal, a tank of gas, a phone call or a bus ride. So, that's my new policy. If someone asks for more than that then I have to assume they're lying. I mean, I'm not saying that I would give it to them anyway. But I just won't assume that they're lying. Does that sound fair? Does anyone else have a policy they stick to? I'm very curious.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Top Ten: NYC

So it turns out that I love New York City. Full fledged love. Our trip to NYC was even better than planned (and I planned for it to be on the top of the 'best weeks of our lives' list). We were able to experience a big chunk of what the city has to offer. We instagrammed some of our favorite pics from the trip but have hundreds more. I could probably write dozens of blog posts on the one week we were there. But instead I will highlight my favorite things about our vacay in the popular 'top ten' format. This is gonna be difficult to decide on...but here we go...

1. Central Park for the first time.
It was incredible. We got to NYC in the evening, took a taxi to our hotel to drop off our stuff then took off to pick up some Shake Shack and head for Central Park. The whole idea of an enormous park smack dab in the middle of a busy city is brilliant. We ate our burgers on some precious park benches next to a little lake with a clear view of the NY skyline. This set the perfect tone for the rest of our trip. We visited CP almost every day. Would just hit up some food carts, people watch, explore the different areas of the park and one day had a caricature drawn of ourselves by the sweetest old man who has been drawing in central park for 25 years. That place is straight up inspiring.

2. Kelly & Michael and Jimmy Fallon. I have a thing for talk shows. I just love them. So I put in some hard work to get tickets to some shows for the time we were in NY. The day I got the Fallon tickets I was beside myself ecstatic (those mugs are pretty hard to get). Luck was on our side and we were able to get tickets to both Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Live with Kelly & Michael! Both shows were awesome.

Kelly & Michael had Robin Williams, Peter Krause and Cher as guests. They were really relaxed about the audience taking pictures and interacting with the guests. Robin Williams was our favorite....just funny all the time. During commercial breaks Michael would come talk to people in the audience. After Cher performed he came over just to talk with me and Chris. We chatted for a couple minutes so we're pretty much best friends now.

Fallon was all business during the commercials which really surprised us.  His guests were Julianna Margulies, Michael Sheen and Superchunk. It was so much fun being on set and seeing how it all works
behind the scenes. The Roots were one of our favorite parts about the whole thing. They got everyone pumped up and excited before the show and during the breaks. It was just great. Everything. We had both of the shows DV-R'd and watched them when we got home. Found ourselves on TV for our 3 seconds of fame. High five.

3. Shake Shack. I had heard about Shake Shack from NY
regulars but thought it was just a popular thing to do and didn't
expect the food to be that different. Kind of like how Californians were about In-N-Out before it branched out of California. Well, we ate at Shake Shack on our first night. And again on the second night. And again on Saturday night in the middle of Times Square filled with 100 million people and lines out the door. Basically, we deemed it best burger we've ever had. And best crinkle fries. That crap is so delicious. Funnily enough, we didn't care for the milkshakes. They were fine. But those burgers and fries.....

(Some of our other favorite eateries were Serendipity for the frozen hot chocolate and Grimaldi's Pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge. Both so good. Must must must go back. Oh, and Magnolia Bakery.)

4. Yankees & Mets Games. 
Chris and I have a "life list" that we made together a few years ago. It's a list of things we want to do/accomplish together. On this list you will find a good combination of all of our interests. So of course there happens to be a few sports related items. One of them is to visit (and eat a hot dog in) at least 10 different MLB stadiums. We crossed 2 stadiums off our list on this trip. Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. Every time we go to any professional sports games Chris turns into a wide-eyed kid again. He was absolutely captivated by Yankee Stadium and was impressed by the comradery of all of the NY fans (New Yorkers were way nicer than we prepared ourselves for). We also visited the Yankee Museum and took the Subway to both games which just helped make it a authentic New York experience. Both games provided beautiful weather and were highlights from our trip.

5. The 9/11 Memorial & Statue of Liberty. 
We felt very patriotic this day. Although the financial district was one of our least favorite areas (tied with China Town) the 9/11 memorial was one of my favorite parts of the trip. There is a quiet, reverent solitude that you feel as soon as you enter the area where the twin towers once stood. It was a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives and a great reminder of the unity that our country was able to form at that time. After the memorial we took the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. She wasn't as big as I had expected but it was another experience that will be clocked in my noggin forever.

6. Greenwich Village/Washington Square. This is where we have decided we want to live. We originally went to this area to see the arch in Washington square and find the building that was used as the apartment in our fave TV show FRIENDS. But we just walked around for a while and fell in love with the walk-ups, the NYU performers and the character of the area. New life goal...live there.

7. Rockefeller Center. I had no idea how huge that place was going to be. There is a lot going on in there. We were told that to see the best NYC views that it was so much better to do 'Top of the Rock' instead of the Empire State building. I have to assume this is right because the view was absolutely incredible. We also had the military perk which gave us discounts on all the tickets. So before the Jimmy Fallon taping we did the 30 Rock tour. Tours normally aren't "our thing" but we knew we wanted to see the SNL studio so we did it. Seeing the SNL set that they were preparing for the SNL season premiere the next night was definitely the best part. Also, our tour guides mistakenly took us to the eighth floor where no one is allowed and we saw Aidy Bryant (SNL cast member) and Higgins (Jimmy Fallon's sidekick). I support mistakes.

8. Broadway! I love me some Newsies. The first time I ever even thought about visiting NYC is when I saw that Newsies was going to Broadway. One of my all time favorite movies played out on stage?! I was sold. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to fulfill that dream (which was also on our life list). I was a little nervous about being disappointed since a lot of the songs and some characters were changed for the play. But it turned out to be just as remarkable as I thought it would be. I didn't think I could love anyone in the role of Jack Kelly as much as I love Christian Bale, but the lead guy was insanely talented. Broadway show on a Saturday night....check!

 9.Times Square. The lights. The people. The energy. Better than expected. I expected it to feel like Vegas for some reason. It was a lot cleaner and just cool. M&M World was legit. I loved that place. Also, Times Square is where I bought my I ♥ NY shirt and Chris got mistaken for Justin Timberlake (what?!). Haha!

10. New York stereotypes. Some people hate stereotypes. I think I love them. I think it's funny when a place lives up to it's stereotypes. I loved this about New York. Like the crazy people talking to themselves on the Subway, or the thick accents and loud talking, or the shady salesmen lurking in the alleyways, the pigeons and mice all over, or eating pizza folded in half, people performing on the subway not caring about what other people think, or the fast pace of it all. People were not rude like we expected and there wasn't as much traffic as we anticipated. The one thing that we were disappointed with was the lack of customer service in restaurants. That was worse than one would hope for. And something that surprised us about the city was the amount of dogs everywhere. Not stray dogs. But pet dogs. People walking dogs everywhere! I guess we just didn't think about it but didn't expect so many people to have pets in the city. It was nice.

{Just someone trying to fit 100 helium balloons into a subway car. normal. }