An Open Letter to Every Young New Yorker Who Feels Like Crying: Please Try Not To!

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You know the story: coddled (post-)college kid comes to the big city, buckles under pressure, cue tears. Today's tale is from a "twenty-something former film student, frequent subway-crier and headboard enthusiast," who called a late-night locksmith when she couldn't get into her apartment. When the work was done, the guy asked for $613, which she rightly called "exorbitant," enough so to call the cops, who showed up and subsequently bullied her into paying. ("Pay the man now or you're under arrest.") Consumerist relayed the story, adding some dry tips like, "Agree on an estimate before they start services." The Awl, meanwhile, advised all "NYC Young People: You Never, Ever Call an Emergency Locksmith." As one of those young people -- one who has been ripped off! -- I just want us all to be a little bit tougher.

The generic New York City twenty-something is faulted, among other things, for being so soft that we prefer a self-esteem boost to sex. It's a disgusting stereotype. Similarly, in a place obsessed with authenticity, the uphill climb to real New Yorker status gets more slippery every time one of us drops tears, especially in making a show of something self-centered when really it's a universal experience.

What I mean is, you're supposed to get ripped off in New York City. It happens to everyone! Once, in an old East Village apartment, the crud in our pipes was so severe as to render our bathroom sink unusable. No Draino made a dent. Because roommates are useless and my own attempts with a wrench made things worse, I called a plumber. He used what looked like torture instruments to clear decades of pipe grime in a few minutes and then handed me a bill for a quarter of what I made in a month. Instantly I realized I got played because I failed to check with our landlord first and I forgot to ask for an estimate, and so I trudged to the ATM. I just wanted to use the sink as soon as possible! (What an idiot, right?) Out of embarrassment, I never told my roommates.

I didn't tell my blog either.

It's not this girl's fault that her story spread -- part of me finds it sympathetic, too. It's also not her fault that she ended up with both a locksmith and a cop who were bigger dicks than most. Being that it was late at night and she obviously did not feel safe, an authority figure should have stuck up for her. She wrote wisely in a follow-up: "Please don't believe that because you are young, or old, or female, or alone, you deserve to be treated without respect."

And yet it makes me cringe. "I have never had so much as a speeding ticket. I have never done drugs. I never drank underage," she wrote in her first post, crystallizing the awful entitlement we're so often accused of. Because every time she inches toward taking responsibility, she back-peddles: "But I still can't believe that this happened to me...I feel let down by something. I don't know whether it's my expectations of justice or my own naivete. Something has failed me tonight. I feel shocked and massively depressed."

It's $600 bucks! More importantly, everyone is safe. She still lives in the greatest city in the world, where she has an apartment and a job and a cell phone and the option to have any sort of service person (or foreign cuisine) come right to her door at any time of night. It sucks, sure, but it won't really tomorrow and less every day after that.

There's a larger issue here with my knee-jerk defensiveness: it's hard to be grouped with every last young person in this city -- from the morons trying to find husbands in Murray Hill laundry rooms to the tearful, confessional bloggers -- but I think if we all just emoted a little less and scowled a little more, then everyone -- from that masturbating bum to the aggressive bar-hopping banker -- would back off, back down and leave us alone a little more often.

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14 comments
norahedward
norahedward

I love your post. you have precise Ideas that I did easy catches up and I would love to impose that on everyday living. thanks! locksmith in seattle

antima jain
antima jain

What a great blog. I spend hours on the internet reading blogs, about tons of different subjects. I have to first of all give kudos to whoever created your website and second of all to you for writing what i can only describe as an post. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only a few posses and frankly you have it. The combination of informative and quality content is definitely extremely rare with the large amount of blogs on the internet.

Jon
Jon

is she Agree on an estimate before they start services

InformedNewYorker
InformedNewYorker

This police officer broke the law, violated this young woman's civil rights, threatened her, and she was robbed of 600 dollars. He threatened her with physical restraint and imprisonment. You must feel like a big strong man to write a column condemning her for being scared. Next time a government rep with a gun threatens me, I'll be sure to mouth off to him. Great advice.

By the way, the cop infringed upon New York State Law CVR Article 3 Subsection 22, "privilege from arrest". Here's the link:

http://public.leginfo.state.ny...

Keyman424
Keyman424

These are not real locksmiths. They are Israeli organized crime outfits. They rip people off everyday across the country. Real locksmiths pick locks the phonys drill them. This lady was the victim of a scam that is actually israely organized crime. ABC News Good morning America did a story on this scam as did over a hundred news outlets around the United States. You can view this news story and others by going to www.allhourlocksmiths.comThis lady should have not paid more than 200.00 for the middle of the night. and that price would even be questionable.

Ju
Ju

$600 hundred dollars for a locksmith to come out to your apt late night is more then reasonable. Forget about welcome to NYC welcome to the USA - where we are free to charge what the market demands.

InformedNewYorker
InformedNewYorker

We are not free to have the local police act as our personal payment enforcement agency.

MMJ
MMJ

It's common knowledge that locksmiths charge hundreds of dollars to unlock a door. This is done on purpose, for a number of reasons, namely that the locksmith is "on-call" and that has a cost, and it has to be expensive enough so that thieves don't just call locksmiths all night getting into random people's apartments.

The girl should've let the guy imprint her credit card, I'm not buying that it's illegal. Imprinting is the way it used to be done, and why would credit cards have raised numbers if it's illegal to imprint them?

This girl should've had a spare set of keys with a friend or roommate, or she should've called her super and paid him $100 for showing up. This life lesson cost her $600 and she should take responsibility for her actions.

mattmaison
mattmaison

I know this isn't really what this article is about, but failing to pay a debt isn't a crime in the US and a police officer certainly couldn't arrest you for not paying the locksmith. The worst that would happen is the locksmith would send you to collections, take you to small claims court (at which you could argue the fee was outrageous and not agreed upon before the service), or put a lien on your apartment if you owned it.

If failing to pay a debt was a crime in the US, a lot of defaulted homeowners and credit card debt skippers would be in jail right now.

Findu
Findu

So you would expect the taxpayer to shoulder the cost of a non-sensical small claims court proceeding over $600. This girl should've just paid up. The police officers should be able to bill her for wasting the taxpayer's money. Those officers including benefits & disability, SS, and pension contributions make $120 an hour so thats two cops 2 x 120 =240 plus they had a squad car which based off zipcar rates say $50. So she just cost the taxpayer $290 because she forgot her keys and had the never to fight a charge by a hardworking locksmith.

Jbn
Jbn

Matt, Try walking out of a restaurant without paying and see if you don't get arrested. Its a crime baby, and you will get arrested.

mattmaison
mattmaison

Restaurant bills are under a different part of the law. You enter into a contract when you enter the restaurant.

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