It seemed like a small thing but once I finished it, I realized that it was actually a really big deal! A friend recently left her job in New York City (NYC) and moved to a much smaller city in the southern US. Today at lunch I saw her file in my Outlook Contacts and when I opened it, noticed that her NYC work address was still there. As I deleted that address, one character at a time on my Blackberry, I got the most delightful feeling of relief when the last number of the NYC zip code disappeared into the ether! It was as if I closed a chapter of her life.
I recalled the stress that the City levies on her residents, the constant fear of violent street crime, the challenge of grocery shopping without a car, just the general uneasiness my friend seemed to have whenever I visited her there or we talked on the phone. She and I watched a drug deal go down across the street from her apartment one summer night. And the cost of living in Brooklyn was surprisingly high – - -it took almost everything she made to buy the $5 boxes of cereal and the $3 quarts of milk. And she was always sick. Sinus infections, a bout of MRSA in a knee that she nicked shaving, a chest cold that wouldn’t go away: There was always something going on with her health. A physician’s assistant friend told her “Yep, you’ll STAY sick for your first year in NYC because of all the germs that exists there and nowhere else, and the constant influx of immigrants from all over the world – - – nobody has immunity when they first arrive and it takes at least a year to build up a resistance to the bugs”. We will never know if that would have been true in my friend’s case because she left at the one-year point.
She said the idea of renewing her apartment lease and living another year there was not at all appealing. She enjoyed the work there as a TV producer and she really liked the company she worked with. And she liked most of the social life and she loved the restaurants. But she said the final straw for her was being so tightly packed in a subway car one morning that, with every breath, she inhaled into her mouth the stranger’s hair in front of her. And she was too tightly sardined to move. Turning her head helped a little but she apparently made a decision to change jobs (and cities) that morning. I don’t blame her at all. I wouldn’t have lasted a month there. Maybe not a week.
So here’s the deal:
- Have some respect for people who endure the City. They put up with a lot. And if you need them in your business, as a supplier to you for example, or a customer, be thankful they put up with life there. It isn’t easy.
- Try it yourself sometime. If your industry/career values time spent in a major metro area, consider NYC for a 6-18 month stint. You might even like it. And lastly, well, I don’t have a third point – - - I’m just VERY glad my friend is out of there and in a friendlier, slower-paced city in America’s southland.
No place is perfect, there is some crime everywhere and she may have issues what some facets of life in Charlotte in the years ahead but the big cities come with their own challenges, which sometimes, get the best of even the bravest and the most enduring!
In Summary: When you conduct business with what seems to be someone who is a little irate, or cold or unapproachable… be patient; you never know what they have endured just to get to that meeting or to make to that conference call…
Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation
—Mack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government