THE VALUE OF NAIVETE
Sometimes not knowing any better can be a good thing. When I first moved to NYC from DC I had just enough money and a place to live for a month. I'd had "informational interviews" at NBC, ABC and CBS but no job offer. I loved the interview process, loved meeting new people and had complete faith that it would "all work out." Actually, it never occurred to me that it wouldn't.
When I was getting close to broke, I met with this wonderful guy at CBS who ended the interview by saying, "Well, Gail, I'm going to hire you. I don't know what the job is yet, but I'm going to figure it out and call you in two weeks with an offer." "I'll be waiting!" I said and almost flew out of his office. "Don't be an idiot," my New York friends said. "You'll never hear from him. This is New York, people say all kinds of things! Don't be so naive!" "No," I said quietly, "I believe him."
Two weeks later he called and offered me the job of manager of the WCBS-TV film library and morgue. I was to start immediately! I was totally thrilled. Never mind that I didn't know anything about film, libraries (I never understood the Dewey Decimal System and was afraid of librarians) or morgues. But I mean, how hard could it be?
At the same time, the lease on my furnished apartment was about to run out - and it occurred to me that I'd better start looking for a place to live. "Are you kidding?!" the same friends said, "Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an apartment here? You should've started weeks ago - and you don't even have the Sunday Times yet! People get the paper at least a day in advance - everything good will be gone already." "There must be plenty of apartments in New York," I thought , and went out to buy a paper.
I didn't know my way around New York very well but this entry sounded good: "East 74th St., Park/Lex, studio, 3rd fl walk-up, wbfrpl, high ceilings." (I didn't know what a "wbfpl" was but I liked the sound of it.) I went to see it and fell in love. It was totally charming. I didn't mind walking up three flights, the "wood burning fireplace" actually worked and there was a cute boy (they were still "boys" then...) who lived upstairs. Plus, Mr. Musgrove, the superintendent, was a really nice guy. "The rent is $175 a month," he said. "Oh, I can only pay $150, that's my weekly salary," I said apologetically. "Don't worry, that's fine," he said. (I know, it's hard to believe, isn't it?) It was perfect. And I didn't move out until I was married (to a different cute boy) a few years later.
Okay, it's true, I was pretty naive. I definitely "didn't know any better" - about finding a job, finding an apartment - or any number of other things about living in New York. But, looking back (way back..) I think my naivete played in my favor. Here's how: I wasn't jaded. I was optimistic. I expected that a job, an apartment, even a cute guy, would somehow turn up at the right moment...and that on the whole, people would do what they said they'd do. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's good to be "dumb." But I am saying that sometimes it's good not to be "too smart" - too analytical, too suspicious, too cynical.
Here's the thing: On the whole, we get what we expect - from situations, from people, from life. So why not expect - or even assume - the best? Hey, it can't hurt, right? And you never know what (good job, great apartment) or who (wonderful boss, cute boy) will turn up...
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