The other boroughs were hardly on my mind. I hadn’t given any thought to exploring Brooklyn or Queens, seeing as I could barely navigate Manhattan without a subway map, using my Google Maps App to orient myself North or South…or East or West for that matter. It seemed like a normal Wednesday at work, I was working on a draft of our weekly newsletter, stepping into the office of my boss for another round of edits. In the midst of our conversation the phone rang and he motioned for me to remain in my chair. Puzzled, I sat, looking around the room, but he put the man on speaker phone and before I could piece together the elements of the story he queried, “Why aren’t you taking notes?” I grabbed the nearest post-it and jotted down what I could gather.
“Possible hate crime…an Israeli and a Turk….someone’s Muslim girlfriend…upcoming press conference in Brooklyn”
In a matter of minutes, I was frantically scribbling snippets of the statement I was to make on behalf of AJC at a press conference at the King’s Bay Y in Brooklyn, for which I was to leave in 20 minutes. Somehow I needed to finish editing this newsletter, print out directions, and start running to catch the subway with no advanced notice! I left around 10:40 AM, and after some confusion about whether to take the 4 or the 6 to my transfer stop downtown I was on the warpath. I looked into my tote, distraught. I had no snacks and no water bottle, due to the fact that I was in a hurry that morning and not worried because I had lunch plans with Maura. Those plans cancelled (I wouldn’t be back to midtown until around 2 PM or later) I had gum and a half-empty bottle of Iced Tea from the day before. With every stop, the automated voice of the train began to gnaw at me. “This is a Coney Island Bound local train…” No one seemed to be getting on or off…20 more stops…16 more stops. It was 11:35, 11:50 AM, I never seemed to get closer to my Kings Bay stop! As 12 PM came and went, I made peace with the fact that I was not going to arrive on time. I stepped off the train between 12:10 and 12:15 PM and with my HopStop map in hand and began a strange mixture of power-walking and jogging through the immigrant neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay. Signs in Turkish, Spanish, and Hebrew mocked me as I ran down the roads in my turquoise and white floral- printed Ralph Lauren sundress and an uncomfortable, horrible-to-walk-in, yet terribly office appropriate pair of white kitten heels, which aren’t so white after getting stuck in sidewalk cracks and potholes. I arrived at the Kings Bay Y looking like a sweaty frantic mess. The lady at the front desk pointed me towards a room down the hallway and I prayed to whatever Jewish spirits I thought were floating in the area to please let me not miss the entire press conference. By this time it was 12:25.
I snuck in, realizing I was awkwardly at the front of the room, as a the Orthodoxy looked shocked at my bare shoulders. In an attempt at modesty, I put on my cardigan, even though I began to sweat right through it. I scanned the room for the man who I was to speak to and I found him. Speaking into a microphone and looking directly into 3 news cameras. I knew there was no way I could weasel my way into this one. He had a list of organizations in his hand, and the PC was clearly winding down. No matter how important the AJC is, or how important we may think it is, I certainly couldn’t prance up to the front, while filming, and simply tap him on the shoulder to say, “Oh excuse me Mr. Kaplan, I’m Rebecca the AJC summer fellow who was supposed to make our statement, I’m here now if you wouldn’t mind me stepping up! I’ll just be a moment. Don’t worry I’ve memorized the statement that my supervisor gave me and I assure you my expensive college education will allow me to deliver it well to the appropriate media sources.” Fat chance.
I scribbled notes about the statements of other Jewish organizations and gave out my boss’s business card to a few reporters who were quite confused about my identity and purpose for being there, considering I didn’t speak and my name wasn’t Michael Schmidt and no I was not the Director of AJC New York, apologies. Quite defeated and dehydrated I called my supervisor, who seemed disappointed to hear that I couldn’t make a statement, but didn’t have time to discuss it. I walked casually and hung my head as I made my way back to the station. I called my mom. I thought about stopping for what I thought would probably be a very authentic and delicious Turkish lunch. But I really just wanted to get back to the borough I knew. A long hour and a half train ride later, I found myself in Subway with a full meal: sandwich, chips, a chocolate chip cookie, and enough Diet Coke to float away. I noticed I had voice mails flashing, I assumed from the office, but I was too exhausted to look. I stopped by my apartment to nurse my blisters and change my shoes before returning to work for 2 and a half more hours. Could it only be 3 PM? Really?!
My boss seemed more visibly disappointed in person, but I assured him I did all I could. I wish he had sent me earlier, I wish he had given me even one hours notice! I could have changed my shoes, I could have bought a snack. I could have caught that Q train that was pulling away the minute I came down the stairs, but instead I had to wait 10 more minutes. It was that or the kitten heels that really did me in. Making a statement on camera would’ve been quite the privilege for a lowly intern like me, second week on the job. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. But I told him, if you ever have any more adventures I’m ready. Snacks, a water bottle, and flip-flops come standard with the work tote now.