How I Know I’m Not in New York (Part 7)

The Welcome Pain of Dislocation
June 12, 2013
Journalism in Romania: A Diogenean Essay (Part 1)
July 2, 2013
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“My car’s stuck in traffic.”

I was sitting in a café after work waiting for my Romanian friend Remus.  He was almost an hour late – so I called him.

“Remus, where are you?”

“I’m sorry, my friend.  I’m on my way.”

“You’re almost an hour late.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Where are you?”

“It’s terrible.  My car’s stuck in traffic.”


“You know how it is.  It’s impossible to get into the center of town from my office at this hour.”

“Yes, I know.”

“It’s awful.”

“I know.”

“Oh well.  What are you going to do?”

“Are you in your car?”

“Of course, and I’m barely moving.”

“Why did you drive?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you could have taken the subway.”

“The subway?”

“It stops right at your office.  And it comes two blocks from here.”

“I know, but I have my car.”


“Well, I have my car.”

“Remus, you could have left it at work.”

“My car?”


“How could I do that?”

“What do you mean ‘how?’”

“Then I don’t have my car.  It’d be stuck at the office.”

“So you get it tomorrow.”

“Leave my car at work?”

“Remus, you’d be here already if you took the subway.”

“Maybe.  But it’s too late.  I have my car.”

“You know, you don’t have to drive everywhere.”

“I know that.”

“And the subway would have been faster.”

“Maybe, but I don’t ride the subway.”

“Why not?”

“The subway is for poor people.”

“That’s silly.  I take the subway.”

“Sure, you’re from New York.”

“Ok, but I don’t see how…”

“It’s fine for you.  But here, the subway’s for people who don’t have cars.”

“Now that can’t be true.”

“Yes it is.  Look at yourself.  You don’t have a car and you take the subway.”

“Remus, I don’t need a car….”


“Because I take the subway.”

“Yes, but if you had a car, you wouldn’t need the subway.”

“Well, I’m not sure…”

“Besides, it’s not safe.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“No, it’s not.  Those people on the subway, you know.…”

“Wait!  What are you talking about?!”

“I don’t feel right with those people on the subway.”

“There are a lot of nice people who ride the subway.”

“Maybe.  But you know, they wouldn’t be there if they had real jobs.”

“That’s not true.”

“And money for a car.”

“I’m sure some of those people have jobs…and even cars.”

“Well, who knows?”

“And Remus, every day you sit in traffic.  Going to work.  Coming from work.  And you always complain.”

“Why shouldn’t I?  The traffic’s awful.”

“And you live three streets from the subway.”

“Two, actually.”

“Ok.  And the subway stops right at your office.”


“So wouldn’t it be faster to take the subway to work?”

“I suppose.”

“But you don’t take it.”

“No, I told you. I have a car.”


“Stop what?”

“Saying you have a car.  I know you have a car.  We’ve driven together a thousand times.”

“Why would I stop saying it?  I do have a car.”

“Yes, I know you have a car.  You’re in it now, right?  Not moving.  Look, my point is your life would be easier if you simply took the subway sometimes.  You wouldn’t be stuck in traffic every day.  And you wouldn’t be late all the time.”

“But I have to take my car to work.”


“In case I need it.”

“For what?”

“In case I need to go somewhere.”

“Remus, you sit behind a desk.  You never go anywhere.”

“But what if I needed to?”

“You could take a taxi.”

“And throw my money away?”

“It’s not that expensive.”

“I should waste money on a taxi when I’m already paying for a car?  Wait!  HEY YOU!!!  MOVE YOUR FAT BUMPER, YOU IDIOT!!!  God, these people are so stupid!  Where do they come from!!  All right, what were you saying?”

“I’m saying you’re late.”

“It’s not my fault.  It’s rush hour.  Oh geez, now she’s in a wheelchair.  SERIOUSLY!!??  GET OUT OF THE STREET!!!”

“And it’s because you’re wasting your time – and mine – sitting in traffic!!”



“No, not you.  HEY!!!!!!!”

“Remus, relax.”

“God, I hate this.”

“Yeah, I know.”



“She’s cute.”

“Look, you do what you want.  But I took the subway and I got here with no problem.”

“Sure, that was earlier.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s rush hour now.”


“No one takes the subway at rush hour.”


“It’s too crowded.”

“Remus, so when will you be here?”



“No, not you.  YOU!!!  MOVE THAT PIECE OF CRAP!!  I don’t know.  The traffic’s barely moving.”

“All right.”


“Are you talking to me?”


“What’s the matter?”



“No, not you.”


“It’s starting to rain.”


“I might never get there.  And then I have to park.”

“All right.  Listen, I have a book.  I’ll wait for you.”

“Ah, thanks.  Again, really, I’m sorry I’m so late.”

“It’s ok.  I’m having a vodka.  I’ll order you something.”



“That would be great!”

“Are you talking to me?”

“After today, and now with this traffic, I could really use a drink.”

“What do you want?”

“I don’t know.”

“I’ll just order what I’m having.  That way it’ll be here whenever you show up.”

“Ok, thanks.”

“No problem.”

“But no.”


“I can’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t.  I have my car.”

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  1. Carter says:

    Your friend is stupid, cocky and more than that, he is an ignorant. I would drop him if I were you! I bet he listens to crappy music, maybe wears tight clothes and even brags about childish stuff (hipster).

  2. maria says:

    having a car in romania its a statement! you should see very expensive cars, parked in not so expensive neighbourhouds! they live on a walkup building, like few tens of thosands apartaments and they drive hundreds of euros cars! its the romanian show off! -))) carter is right, you should drop this guy!

  3. blo says:

    :))) I’m Romanian, but I’ve never behaved in such a stupid way :)))
    But many (especially male), work like dogs behind a desk, they have the latest Laptop and phone on the market, the coolest car money can buy, and they lose 10 years of life, being stuck in traffic. That serves them well!

    When I was living in Bucharest, I always took the subway. I had a car, but I couldn’t use it, because it was stuck in traffic. With my husband in it. :))))

  4. alex says:

    I don’t think i’m to far off by saying you are exaggerating on this, first of all unless you recorded the conversation it’s pretty hard to believe you remember so much of the conversation.

    Second, you must understand that he’s either not from bucharest, and even if he is, Romania is a country of status, people run around for money, “security”, missing the fact that no matter how rich they’ll get … they will always be the poorest kid in the new rich group that they enter.

    It takes time, probably 10-15 years until the truly old degenerate communists start dying off in high percentages, and with them also this makeshift capitalism and consumerism for social positioning will start to change into something better.

  5. If a Romanian is so fond of a car, imagine how fond it is of a human friend.
    That’s why the new yorker would never drop him.

  6. Ioana says:

    Very funny article, very funny comments!
    I am a Romanian, it is true!
    It’s a mindset, it will not die off along with ‘the truly old degenerate communists’ (lol) – it will die off with the help of more education, and when people finally learn to handle feedback – stop going defensive, people!

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