How to Make any Apartment a Five Story Walk-Up

After work on a Friday in July, while staring down the nose of a three-day weekend, I decided that I should do something adventurous. With no planning whatsoever, I logged onto the CouchSurfing website and started sending messages to people living in New York City to see if they could house me for a few nights. For those of you who are in the dark about what couch surfing is, it is a website where people post a profile saying that they are willing to house people for a few nights at no cost. I had heard about it from some friends, and I think that it is really big in Europe and the serial killer community.

After a few minutes, someone responded to my message saying that they had an opening on their couch. I was elated when I read this, and I immediately thanked them for their offer and began gathering information about their exact location. I found out that they lived in the East Village, and I imagined the penthouse that they must live in as I hurriedly packed for the trip.

After driving for close to six hours, I made it to the city at midnight. I was exhausted and wanting to fall into whatever bed, couch, or walk-in freezer the host was planning on letting me use, but NYC parking does not allow one to do something quickly and easily. It was only after circling the block a few times that I was able to finally locate a parking garage.

Once inside the garage, I walked over to the parking attendant, who had the crazy eyes of a person who is trying to escape hell, and asked about parking options. He told me that they were full for the night and could not accommodate me. I stared at him for a few moments with a look of pure exasperation before finally saying that I would just keep looking. As I moved towards my car, the man took “pity” on me and explained that he would find space for me. After I thanked him profusely and handed him my keys, he told me that I should probably go ahead and tip him for his kind gesture of providing me a parking space for the night. I tipped him with much gratitude, but as I walked towards the street, I glanced around and saw the many empty parking spaces in the garage. Clearly the man saw a sucker when I entered and was able to get a sizable tip out of me, even though he had done nothing to help me.

Still irked about my naive attitude regarding the tip, I walked down the city street with my backpack slung over my shoulder and my travel suitcase dragging behind me. I was only a few blocks away from where I would be staying, but it felt like I walked for miles to get there. I kept thinking that someone would jump out a darkened doorway to murder me, and I was so tired that I figured that I would at least get to stop walking if that were to happen. Thankfully, that scenario did not come true, and I made it to the disgusting apartment building that I was set to spend the weekend in.

I began to have serious regrets about my decision to be adventurous in the city as I stared up at the tall building, and my dream of a penthouse apartment situated amongst the wealthiest of NYC was shattered. I buzzed the apartment of the host and waited for a few minutes for the door to open. While standing on the sidewalk, I saw what I assumed was Remy the rat from Ratatouille scurrying by, and I was happy to know that I had already seen a celebrity in the city.

Once the door opened, I headed into the dimly lit corridor that looked like a set for American Horror Story: Hotel and tried to figure out how to get to the fifth floor. Not seeing the elevator, I lugged my baggage up five flights of stairs and arrived at the door of the host’s apartment sounding like an asthmatic person who just tried to run a marathon. Once inside, I talked with Jason, the guy who had offered up his couch in the ghetto to me, for a few minutes before he headed off to bed.

I am not sure what the reason was, maybe because I expected Jason to come out of his room and stab me to death, but I did not sleep well that night. I tossed and turned for hours on the small, rock-hard couch before I finally decided what to do. Like a person trying to break away from the mob in New York City, I knew that I needed to leave.

So at 6:00 AM, while my host still slept (or sat in his dark room sharpening knives), I gathered my belongings and headed out the door. The city seemed much less frightening in the morning light, but it was not enough to make me want to stay any longer. So I picked up my car at the garage, where I glared at the shyster who had extracted an unnecessary tip from me the night before, and left the city.

I wondered if the whole trip had been a waste as I drove down the interstate, but I knew that it had not been. I did something new that was terrifying, which allows me to check off my goal of doing something that scares me. It was not a pleasant experience by any means, but I can now add it to the ever-growing list of stories that tell how I strove to make my life more interesting. And that is more than enough reason to count that weekend as a success.

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