Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shopping for Home Items

Well, today was a busy day, and not a whole lot got done...

I stopped by the apartment with a backpack load of stuff, just to make space in my suitcases for the dirty laundry that's no longer nicely folded and takes more space.  There was a paper from the landlords with a "welcome to the neighborhood," some instructions about the doors and basic information about garbage disposal and stuff, with a bottle of red wine to hold it down.  They'd opened the windows last night as well, so there was fresh air inside the place.

Then I took the subway into Manhattan.  I wrote down the addresses of the four Apple stores in Manhattan (none in Brooklyn) and the one on West 14th Street was the easiest to locate on a map and match up with a subway stop, so I aimed for that first.  A mariachi band got on at one the stations and played some songs while moving up the car and the doors to the next one.  I got off the subway at 14th Street and Union Square, where there was a weekend fair sort of thing going on, people playing music, vendors selling lots of fresh made snacks and things.  Across the street I saw a Bank of America so I popped in to the ATM there to get some extra cash.

Then I headed up the street to look for the Apple store, and went the wrong way.  It took a bit to realize I was going east on East 14th Street, but once I noticed the shop address numbers and matched that with the direction of the sun (still morning, so the sun would be south with a bit of east) I realized it and turned around.  It looks like 5th Avenue divides east from west on the streets.

Unfortunately, west of 5th Avenue the blocks were gigantic, so even though I only had to go four of them, it was quite a long walk.  The Apple store's sign was sort artsy, and in the bright sunlight and a little dazzled and tired, I kind of missed it and walked an extra block too far.

Once I realized that I turned around and went in.  I asked at the entrance for iPhones and the workers sent me up to the second floor (first floor by Indian counting) where Gemma asked if I needed help.  I told her I wanted an iPhone and she went over the plans and all that.  She was quite helpful and fascinated that I'd just come back from India.

Towards the end, she had to call AT&T to activate the account, and they asked her to put me on the phone, which was something she'd never experienced in selling iPhones.  The AT&T woman said she would ask me a few multiple choice questions and I should give the best answer.  First was which mortgage lender held the mortgage to my property, and I said "I don't have a mortgage".  Then she asked something else about another financial loan and I said "I don't have a loan," and Gemma looked pretty puzzled about the half of the conversation she heard.  I thought for sure they'd looked up the wrong Kevin Rubin in some database.  Finally, the last question was "in what state was your social security number issued?" and I said "New Jersey" and the AT&T woman said "congratulations, you've answered all the questions correctly."  So, instead of mistaken about me, they were trick questions to verify I was me and not someone else pretending to be me.  Gemma speculated that having been out of the country the credit report AT&T had on me to activate it was probably too empty, since I wasn't paying bills or anything in the U.S. for longer than 7 years, so they wanted some extra verification.

So, I got the iPhone 4.  It seems pretty cool so far.  The screen is very, very sharp.

After leaving the Apple store I had a long walk back to the subway station at Union Square.  I stopped in at a Red Mango shop for a green tea frozen yogurt that was pretty tasty.  I stopped there for a while and wrote in my journal a bit.  While I was doing that I faced out the window to watch traffic go by.  At one point a black Lamborghini sports car stopped in traffic, and five or six people all whipped out their cameras to take photos of it, including a guy on a motorcycle who took one next to it, then backed his motorcycle up to get more shots from different angles.  Then the light turned green and they all left...

From there I went back to the apartment (the other night I was talking to the realtor about not having any recent rent payment receipts or check stubs because "we own our flat in India" and she said she liked how I called it a "flat" it sounded really fancy and foreign, and she said she had an English friend who told her not to refer to her flat in London as an apartment or people will think she's extremely posh).  I used the phone to call my parents.  I'm not clear if it's just a bad signal in the apartment from AT&T or if I had the iPhone antenna problem, but they could only hear me if I stood in one part of the apartment, and the call got dropped twice...  Not a good start...

It was also kind of loud...  Yesterday I'd noticed the signs posted on the street about no parking on Saturdays.  Today the street was blocked off at both ends with police barricades and a whole block party was in action.  Many, many families out, kids playing all kinds of games in the street, one family had their stereo outside, pumping out Mexican tunes, and a huge barbecue going on in front of that one.

Once I got off the phone with them I headed up to a nearby grocery store.  It was small, without a huge selection in most departments, but had many of the basics I wanted, like Cheerios, some yogurts and Silk chocolate soy milk.  I bought paper towels, soap, shampoo, 409 spray cleanser and dish soap.  Someone left paper plates and plastic knives and forks in the kitchen already, so they were less urgent.  I dropped those things back at the apartment and went out again.

This time I wanted to find several items:

  • pot
  • pan
  • coffee mug
  • pillow
  • sheet
  • blanket

And those things are hard to find there.  I checked in a lot of stores but none of them had any of those.  Up and down, no one had those.  Some people were selling stainless steel pots and water filters on the street and I asked one of them.  At first she said "they're stainless steel.  You do know what stainless steel is?" and I said "yeah, I know what they are, I'm more concerned with can I buy it now and take it home?"  She went on to explain that the water filter "holds 50,000 gallons of water" and I stopped her to clarify that it doesn't hold 50,000 but will filter 50,000 gallons before it needs replacement and she agreed to that change.  Unfortunately, they only had demo models, and would ship the real ones to people who buy them, so I told her that wasn't really the time frame I was looking for, thanked her and kept walking.

Eventually I decided to call it quits for the afternoon, stopped and got some pizza slices and went back to the apartment to pick up my backpack and head to the hotel again.

The R train to Atlantic-Pacific was easy, but this weekend the 3 train isn't running at all, and its routes are being serviced by the 4 train, but that meant the 4 train came on a different platform than usual, so I waited on the wrong one until I saw one, but didn't make it down the steps and under the tracks fast enough to catch it and had to wait for the next.  And it was hot down there, like an oven.

I got off the train one stop earlier and took some time to find my office so I'll be ready for Monday.  I know where it is now...

So, I'm back at the hotel.  I had a good shower after being so hot and sweaty and I don't think I'll be up late tonight.  I'm tired and I need an early start tomorrow.  For those missing items I think I know where there's a Target that'll have all of them, right near the Atlantic-Pacific subway station so I can check that out.  It's just one train from my apartment so I can do that after I check out of the hotel and get my suitcases into the apartment (that's going to be a bit of a challenge, they're heavy and it's a steep, narrow stair case, but I can take them one at a time into the building, then one at a time up the stairs).

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