So my girlfriend is moving in with me at the end of the week (oh yeah, I’m feeling a whole lot of ‘YAY!’ and just a little bit of ‘(gulp)’), and I was at her apartment yesterday waiting for a couple of guys from the Housing Works charity organization. They were going to pick up some furniture that she needed to get rid of and couldn’t manage to sell.
Apparently, Housing Works only caters to high-end hard cases because they wouldn’t take any of her items that weren’t in top-notch shape (one of the guys scoffed, “We usually don’t take anything Ikea”). But everything needed to go, so I gave them each $20 and asked them to take whatever they didn’t want and put it on the curb downstairs.
As soon as they left, I noticed they had left a few big items, so I reluctantly started to move them downstairs myself, starting with a rather cumbersome bookshelf.
When I got to the lobby, I noticed this group of Asians hanging around my girlfriend’s stuff on the curb, examining it closely, even sitting on the entertainment center. They backed away as I approached, worried that I had come to reclaim the items. I tried to explain that they could take whatever they wanted.
“And there’s more, too, coming,” I said, putting down the bookcase. “Even a TV.”
They didn’t seem to speak much English, but they nodded and grinned enthusiastically. I went back upstairs, hoping they had understood me.
When I returned about five minutes later, struggling to maintain my grip on my girlfriend’s heavy TV, I saw that everything but a wobbly glass coffee table had been taken.
“I guess they understood,” I thought, and set the TV down on the ground as gently as I could.
I went back upstairs, picked up the VCR and DVD player and all of the remotes, and immediately headed back down.
Sure enough, the TV was already gone. And there wasn’t a soul around.
‘Where the hell are these people coming from?’ I wondered. I mean, I knew people liked free shit, and I didn’t really think the furniture would last until the morning, when the NYC trash department would pick it up. But the speed with which her stuff was disappearing amazed me, almost as if i were watching a magic trick.
It was then I turned my head and noticed, sitting near the back of a neighboring sushi restaurant, a group of about six or seven Asians, all with their heads pressed up against the glass, staring at me (or more accurately, at what I had just put down on the ground). They were presumably workers at the restaurant on their lunch break, and they all grinned again when they saw me look their way, a few of them giving me the thumbs up sign.
I couldn’t help but laugh. It made me almost giddy, seeing how much these unwanted items had made their day. It was better than giving to charity. I was getting tired, but I decided to go upstairs and make one more trip, bringing down a ten-year-old microwave. One of the Asians, this one dressed in a white kitchen outfit, greeted me and looked at the machine.
“It works?” he asked.
“It works,” I said, and he took it from me, and walked back into the restaurant, his co-workers waiting for him.
Just another quintessential New York moment.