#faithinthecity - Day 1 - Annie get your gun & how to tip in the Big Apple.
So here I am in the big apple ready to take a bloody large bite.
Six months after an email exchange with the artistic Prudence Wright Holmes (of Sister Act fame don't you know?) and all talk of a house exchange for the month of August whilst she does her show in the Edinburgh Fringe, I end up living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one block from Central Park and I get to live out my Carrie Bradshaw dream of being a writer in the city. In reality it could just be the most expensive shopping trip ever.
So today was "C" Day and and I am not lying when I tell you that a woman boarded the aircraft wearing a sumbrero and yoga pants and then proceeded to do a down dog whilst waiting for the toilet.
I also had the (mis) fortune of being sat beside a rather vocal business man from New Orleans. Over a couple of cheeky breakfast mimosas we got talking all about the oil and gas industry in which he worked. Talk went from Edinburgh Castle, malt whisky to Aberdeen, to Brexit and then went rapidly downhill to Trump, fake news and gun control.
Lets just call him Jeff for the sake of it as I never got to know his name, but after his third cocktail he was more than happy to tell me that he had voted for Trump. So, me being me, asked how he felt that the NRA had funded a large part of his campaign. Yes that's right - in a confined space and I start talking gun control with around 180 passengers from the land of the free.
A married man, no kids, a stay at home wife and three dogs and Jeff felt it was perfectly normal that he had FIVE guns hidden in his house. Yes, that's right. Five. He had taken time to teach his wife how to shoot a rifle.
"Why?" I asked.
"Do you know about the Stand Your Ground gun law?" he asked me.
I'd actually seen a Youtube video about it earlier this week and was absolutely staggered that this law exists. For those not in the know, it allows you to shoot to kill someone if you are unduly threatened by them without charge (although the stats recently issued are very much in favour of white people over black) Seriously dont get me started!
I challenged Jeff and asked why he thought fighting gun crime with more guns was the right thing to do and he unreservedly told me that that was the way he was brought up. Born in 1968 he knew no different and had been taught how to use guns at an early age. To Jeff this was normal life. An every day occurence in America.
My polar opinion went straight over his head and he could not fathom how I did not need a gun to protect my property. When I challenged him on how he would feel if he shot and killed someone, he explained that he was trained well enough that he could shoot an assailant in the knee, shoulder or arm and miss all main arteries so he knew he would never murder anyone. If only we were all as well trained as Jeff.
I almost had to admire his passion, dedication and precision in his firearm skills. But what blew me away was the sheer bloodymindedness that it was his patriotic right that if he was unduly threatened he could just pull out his Remington 700 and shoot someone. Without even thinking and having no conscience about this. And when I challenged him about the fact that it took me three times longer to rent a car than a firearm in Miami, he thought it was funny!
Our opinions were so far apart that to avoid him pulling out a plastic fork and stabbing me in the chest to prove a point, I feigned a headache and need for sleep.
Luckily by the time we landed he was a further four double vodkas down so I managed to outsprint him to the immigration line. (side note - that's a blog for another day!)
So after a very debatable flight to Newark, I then had the delights of a New York cabbie who loved that I was doing the whole Cameron Diaz, Holiday scenario and he actually "whoop whooped" across the Lincoln Bridge as he drove me uptown.
Unfortunately, my buzz of excitement was soon dissolved when McWhoop my driver passed me the machine to pay his fare and casually asked, so what tip do you want to add on? 20%, 30% or 35%?
What started as an exciting venture into the Big Apple, ended in me having to pay my driver an additional 20% for "doing his job". I really must remember this the next time I do a set of accounts, or tax return or speak at an event. Or Do My Job, and ask my clients to pay me an extra 20plus percent as a gratuity - and all because I gave them a "whoop whoop" for getting their books in on time.