Uber has been such a lifesaver. On the grand scale of things, I really don’t think much has changed since I’ve left the States (Kombucha is still a thing. Everybody, calm down; there’s no need to panic). But the one thing that I would say has actually been a shift is Uber everywhere.
Last week, I took my first Uber. I also threw up on the I-278, off the side of that Uber (partly because I have a weak stomach and partly from a three-day-long case of jet-lag). When the L-train ceased all function the past weekend and the only means of getting into Manhattan became the G (NO. NO. NO.) or the MTA Bus (Don’t even try it), Uber had $2.75 car pools along the L, meaning my 45-minute commute into the city via the Williamsburg bridge and half a mile of traffic on Delancey only cost as much as a Subway ride. Not bad for a company supposedly run by a bunch of beer-slinging bros.
I still feel (more than) mildly incompetent, because my inner tip calculator is totally screwed up. Once, I wielded the uncanny ability to perfectly divide things into 18% chunks (stemming from my first job as a Sushi waitress) but a year in China has completely destroyed that part of my brain.
Earlier this morning, I caused a scene in the Strand bookstore (18 miles of books! And one staircase covered in sticky beer-tea juice!) when my (paper) Whole Foods bag tore and the Kombucha bottle inside exploded. Before leaving for China, roughly 80% of my diet consisted of Kombucha and Greek Yogurt. None of those things can be found in China, so it’s been a hard year. My time in Shanghai has been full of well-documented intestinal agony, already remedied my American probiotics. In the last year though, Synergy (Organic & Raw, according to their label) has begun adding ‘Contains Alcohol’ labels to their beverages. That still doesn’t explain why every bottle of Kombucha I’ve had on this trip has rabidly and violently exploded its contents all over the floor upon being opened.
Subway rats and the mild smell of pee
Strangers who offer to carry my luggage or beseech me to fellate their genitals.
Above all, what I’ve missed about the U.S. have been the people. Despite what everyone says, New Yorkers have a certain sense of communal compassion. When I had a really hard time coming off of local anesthesia last week (so much that I threw up, but that tends to be a common reaction from my weak stomach) and almost fainted in the doctor’s office, the nurse sat with me to make sure I was okay and brought me ice packs and Andes mints. While yes, that should sound like a part of her job, when I wasn’t feeling well in a Chinese hospital (just two weeks ago), the doctor yelled at me so much she gave me a panic attack. I’ve missed apologizing when bumping into people or even the simple thrill of telling the creeps on St. Mark’s to shove it when they ask me to ‘use my mouth on their genitals’ (in less nice terms, natch)