The Big Apple

Taking a bite out of the big apple.

So the van was fixed. Only a hefty $750 setback. I tried not to think about it. But it was immediately apparent as I was driving on the highway, something was wrong. The brakes felt fine, but there was this awful hissing noise and every time I hit a bump you could hear this hissing noise bouncing around and it was rather loud. So I pulled off at the first rest stop and found a safe place to get out and take a look underneath. I called my dad and gave him the rundown. Earlier before I left for Pennsylvania, my dad in his infinite wisdom put together a tool kit for me that should have just about anything I could need in case of a road side emergency. Luckily I have never really had to use it, but I was always grateful for the tools. Today they would come in handy. I played down some floor mats and crawled under my van. It was a little toasty because it had been running for a short while, but it was bearable. As I look around I saw that where the guys had put on the exhaust collar, there was a second and muller smaller piece of tubing that let out some other kind of exhaust into the muffler. I don’t know the technical terms, but from looking at it I could tell that it was supposed to be attached and at some point it had rusted off and was flopping around. So I grabbed a spool of metal wire in my toolkit and went to work trying to tie it onto the exhaust to keep it from bouncing around. The pipes were still hot and it was an awkward position to get it secured tightly, but I managed to do a pretty bang up job. The only way to test it was to get back on the road.

Once I fired the van up I could tell it was in good shape. There was a still small hissing sound, but this time it was barely noticeable. At least it wasn’t bouncing around every time you hit a bump. So in my mind the problem was resolved as far as I can tell. Thankfully for the remainder of the trip and up till now as I am writing this blog the wire is still doing it’s job splendidly.

Aside from that little maintenance excursion, the rest of the trip was fine and smooth. Every mile I got closer to NY I was a little bit more anxious. Going into it my plan was that I would park outside my friend’s apartment for the night, get settled in, and she would show me how to get to work on the subway. That was about as far as I had planned ahead.

I finally made it to Brooklyn, New York. When I rounded the corner and pulled up to my friends apartment though, there was no parking. Naive me, I thought it would be easy to find parking in the city. I had to circle the block a few times and finally caught a spot that wasn’t too far away from the apartment. It was about a block and a half out and there was some good street lighting as well. I made the trek from my van to her apartment to check in and say hello.

Now I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I was pretty nervous walking down the street at 11 p.m. There were a number of people hanging out on the sidewalks, some were sitting on  their porch steps, there was loud music from the cars passing by, and the stench of urine mixed in with all the garbage bags on the sidewalk. A small part of me couldn’t help but think that I must have stood out like a sore thumb. I definitely do not look like I belong in the city so I did my best to put on a semi tough ‘don’t mess with me” face and avoided eye contact at all costs. I couldn’t get to the apartment fast enough.

I made it! Buzz me in. My friend welcomed me in and I said hello to her roommates. One of which I had met before on a previous job we had all worked on. After making plans for the morning, I said my goodbyes and I was off to sleep in my van for the first time in New York City.

I had done a pretty good job of making the back half of my van lightproof to the point that you wouldn’t know anyone was in there. That was the goal after all. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure if what I was doing was legal. I did my best to research it and all I could find was that there were people who lived in their RV’s on the streets of New York and they weren’t getting fined. So if they can do it, then I can too. I had a little auxiliary battery set up in the back of my van which I used to power a small 7″ fan. I didn’t have a lot of time to prep for this trip, so there were definitely some things I would have liked to have changed. The biggest one was wanting to install a roof vent. It can get super hot and stuffy inside the van with no roof vent, and I wasn’t about to open my windows at night either. I knew I was just going to have to sweat it out for the time being. I’ve slept in worse places, so at the end of the  day it wasn’t awful. I was ready for bed and after an hour of calming my heart rate down and convincing myself that I was going to be fine and safe, I fell asleep. I remember praying quite a bit that first night asking for safety and protection from God.

My logic was that God opened up the door to be here, and all I had to do was step out in faith and be willing to get a little uncomfortable. I trusted that He was going to keep me safe. And sometimes when people ask me if I was worried about getting mugged or anything, I’d tell them “God wouldn’t send me to NY just to shoot me”. It’s a little tongue in cheek, but the point is still there. I could get robbed or mugged or whatever anywhere I go. So to me that is a senseless fear. And with that, my first night in Brooklyn came to a close. In the morning I would be taking my first trip on the subway and pretending to know how to work as an Associate Producer for this production company. Easy.



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