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A most New York of interactions

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

After a passive aggressive, pointless, faceless discouse with a neighbor taking place on a Restoration Hardware catalogue cover as canvas, you're gonna love the outcome.

A men's bike has been chained to the stairwell in my building for the entire time I've lived here- 11 months of a fine Italian road bike gathering dust and hogging the one good real estate here. I've had bikes stolen from out front (chained and locked, the tires gone in the morning and the skeleton upturned, pleadingly facing the sky) and from inside the building (with nothing to tether it to, it sat helpless until someone walked into the building after a neighbor's careless house party and stole it from our unlocked lobby). I decided the other day to take my Kryptonite and my brand new Bianchi (which I've been saving up since October for) and hook it right up to... their bike. I know. Not cool. But I tell you, there were no other options- there's only space for one bike to lock to the stairwell, and no room on the radiator. It's a sitting duck otherwise. I'd been lugging it up a flight of stairs resentfully, as if my neighbor had any idea of my disease, the way my right side lacks strength and function, how difficult it is to carry things.

I got a note two days later (well, the next day, but I thought the catalogue was just left on my seat out of meanness). The glossy RH volume sat on my seat, saying this in caps letters:

 "Stop locking your bike to mine. Find somewhere else to chain your bike, please. This is how I get to work."

I was self-righteous, enraged and determined to fuck with them after that. They NEVER rode this bike!!! I'm not stupid or blind. This bike doesn't move. I USE mine. 

I'll steal the bike; I'll pop the tire; I'll leave a note saying "I'll just lock my bike to yours and when you need to go to work, knock on Apartment 2 and I'll unlock it", leaving them in a total fix- either they admit they lied and never ride it, thus never knocking on my door. Or, they knock, they have to , humiliatingly, ride their bike around the block a few times to indicate they DO in fact use it, leaving me room to now lock MINE to the stairwell AND , ultimately, winning. But of course, then I'd be leaving my bike vulnerable to the sort of attacks I'd planned on theirs.

Instead, I took a friend's advice. I was honest and I gave in, because it's easier and better. I left a note, on a real piece of paper, on their seat: "I'm not trying to be an asshole. I didn't see this bike move and thought it was cool to do. If there was a way to share the stairwell, I'd love it; if not, it's yours."

This concession left me curious and relaxed. I gave in, gave up. When I got home tonight, there was a note, another one, from him:

"I'm sorry I was an asshole. It's totally fair to share the stairwell and I'll see if I can attach my bike to the radiator. I have to run now, but let's work it out."  There was more, but that's not for here.

I responded with a flood of appreciation, a note that seems absurdly intimate to anyone who's never sat at a bar too late and shared secrets with a stranger, ones nobody else knows and that you feel thrilled and absolved to tell. One of those New York moments where it's imperative someone you'll never see again (even if they live mere yards from you) has with you. I wrote that my medical condition makes it hard to carry things and it made my gesture seem passive aggressive and childish; that I appreciated his openness; I reflected on how Brooklyn this all is.

I'm looking forward to his response. This reminded me that extreme proximity can drive people apart, and that a single gesture of cooperation can render us neighbors, not strangers.