Saturday, July 13, 2013

"I'm so real! I lived in New York!"

A couple of days ago, I was bitching here about a co-worker one cube over who was constantly loud, constantly on the phone with personal calls, constantly loudly talking about "New York"-this and "New York"-that... Today I got back from lunch and had some work-stuff to seriously think about (i.e., not just dumb make-work stuff). But the chick next door was on the phone talking about her band and her band's website. And she stayed on the phone talking about her band and her band's website for the next 50 minutes. I can see personal calls for 5 or 10 minutes...but nearly an hour? At first I thought maybe she didn't know I had come back from lunch. So I coughed a couple of times, etc. No reaction (like hanging up the phone!). I couldn't concentrate. I went to the bathroom. I went to fill up my water bottle. I went to chat with my boss.

Finally, at the 50-minute mark, I got up and went over to her cube: "Hi...Sorry to interrupt you...I'm having a really hard time concentrating...Could you possibly, maybe, um, talk on your cell outside?" (God, I hate grovelling.)

She immediately hung up and then came over to apologize. Kind of. "I'm so sorry! I'm not used to having you here. When it was just J--- and me, we'd talk all the time. A lot of times, we even play music around here. And no one's ever complained before."

Now, I've been at this place for 3 weeks. And have been around "J" the whole time, 8 hours a day. She's a Young Professional on the make. She's serious about her work. She's quiet. She never "plays music." Nor have I ever heard anyone else in this (professional) office "play music."

But I smiled and nodded and said "thanks for understanding; sorry if I was rude."

A few seconds later, hipster-chick adds: "It's probably because I'm from New York. In New York, things are a lot looser at work."

OH REALLY??????? (Gawd, shades of the overhead ignorant conversation from last week about fireworks on the East River as opposed to the Hudson...) I sprang into action:

"Really? You found things more casual at work in New York? When I worked in New York, I was at Morgan Stanley and a publishing company, and they usually liked things pretty quiet. I wish I'd been in YOUR nicer office! Where did you work there?"

She hemmed-and-hawed and didn't answer directly about what company in New York City would encourage hour-long personal conversations on the job. (I suspect it was probably a bar.)

I am SO glad I had that wide-open chance to let her know that she couldn't play that bullshit "NYC-card" with me (as I'm sure she's done with many other impressionable Austinites who still think NYC -- and thus herself -- must be the height of Cool).

When I got home from work, I looked her name up online, since she'd been going on about her band; found this quote from her: "I really felt like I had this songwriter's soul inside of me -- and New York City was impossible for me to realize that truth...The pace was too fast -- I felt like a 'nobody.' I'm too vain -- I needed to go somewhere where I could create something."

(1) I hate any trendy, shallow reference to one's "truth."
(2) The whole quote is extremely condescending to Austin--implying that she's now a big fish in a small pond and will thus be wildly successful since her "special light" somehow wasn't previously "allowed" to shine in NYC.
(3) It's a common misperception that Austin will charge or re-charge your creative batteries. I've heard the same sentiments from at least 4 different people over the 3 decades that I've lived here. What no non-native realizes: Austin is a supremely LAZY town. "Live and let live." Which is a nice philosophy in general, but not a great CREATIVE philosophy. There's no challenge here. Anybody can be in a band here. Anybody can be written up in the local press here. The REAL challenge is making it in the more honestly critical/cynical NYC.

I also rolled my eyes at a blurb on her own band website that said she "teaches journalism and writes for a human rights group." (Good lord, is there anything more trendy than claiming to "write for a human rights group"?!) She's at a cube next to me doing office work, for pete's sake!

No comments: