Too Stubborn To Leave


The other night I was in a men’s shelter in New York City. Not living there — thank God — but doing volunteer work.

While talking to a group of men who had to be there we started to all gripe about how tough it is to live in New York City.  The big complaint from every man was the economic  price of being a New Yorker.

Cigarettes cost $15 a pack.  Rents for a one-bedroom apartment average $3000 a month… if you’re lucky enough to find one.  A cup of coffee for $1.50 and that’s just the basic java.

These men are living on the knife edge of survival and the shelter is the only  roof over their heads that they can afford.

While listening to the men I heard the voices of people all around the country complaining about prices, lack of decent paying jobs, housing the average person an afford, etc.

The most ironic part of the evening was when 9 out of the 10 men said that they were going to leave New York because it’s become just way too expensive.  Think about that for a second. These were homeless men and even the homeless can’t afford to live in New York City. What’s next?  The vermin going to start bailing out too?

But there was one holdout.  A fellow who looked like he hadn’t shaved since the days of the straight razor proclaimed proudly that he was staying in New York.  “I was born here. Raised here. Call me stubborn but no one is going to chase me out of here.”

He went on to say that life is only as tough as you think it is. He then looked me in the eye and passed along something to me that he had seen on a bumper sticker.  Wiser advice I have never heard.

“Don’t believe everything  you think.”

True story.


About nhbrownlee

Advertising copywriter, Creative Director and state of New York college professor. I love true stories. Who doesn't?
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