I love learning the lessons of New York City the hard way through direct experience:

Nothing looked familiar. Whenever we slowed down, those behind us pushed us forward with yelling and insults about being tourists. We were met with ugly stares on the street and we were mocked from storefronts pocking gutted brownstones. People would stop, open-mouthed, to look at us — we both with bright, garish, white skin and matching white short-shorts and tank tops and goofy, glowing red “Nebraska Cornhusker” trucker hats — as we strolled by trying to figure out how to get back to our new home.

Night was falling fast as we continued to walk and Janna began to shiver a little. The lights became more garish and throbbing in the night. The sounds of traffic and street hustlers grew so intense it hurt your ears to try to make sense of the multiple conversations happening in concert. We kept walking. We kept our head down. We tried not to make eye contact. Each tiresome New York block became longer and longer as we yearned for a familiar landmark. We stopped talking to each other as we concentrated on trying to find our way back home. We finally came to the end of the road.

One of the toughest lessons we try to teach to those who visit us in New York City is that if you plan to buy something, YOU MUST BUY IT NOW WHILE THE ITEM IS IN YOUR HAND!

You cannot browse in New York City and hope to find again what you put back.

You cannot “think about it” in New York City and expect the item to still be there after you make up your mind.

If you find something you think you might maybe want to buy, and if you are currently holding it, continue the momentum of your human impulse and follow through with a purchase.  You can always return it later if you change your mind.

New York City isn’t like the Midwest.  You are competing with 8 million other buyers.  You can’t put something back on the rack and expect it to still be there in a week or a day or even 15 minutes.

Shopping is savage in The City and you need to be prepared to know what you want and when you want it.

Sometimes, we forget our own advice, and when we innocently turn around to grab that jacket again, or carton of soy milk, or bundle of flowers — only to discover they have disappeared! — we gak on our gullibility for not following our own mandate.

Don’t believe a salesperson’s woe or a store’s layaway plan. They won’t hold anything for you and you’ll never see any of it ever again. Be proactive. Trust no one. Be your own smart shopper and aggressively buy what you want RIGHT NOW!


    1. Right! Rent always comes first, and the shopping rule is — “If you can afford to put it back and not buy it, then you didn’t really need it in the first place.”

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