Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where do we go now?

So... here we are.

I am standing on a crowded street corner and there is a dead rat at my left foot. To my right, a boisterous man waving a pamphlet in my face is screaming about some "crazy bitch." To the average person, this scene is fairly daunting, yet I am merely observing. Where is my gag reflex? This rat is missing body parts for the love! Where's my sense of outrage? My disgust? Did I ever have that squeamish reaction to it all? The answers lie in the simple fact that I am a New Yorker. An interesting bunch of people, we are completely desensitized but also quite sensitive. We are super focused, making us blind at the same time. We are observant to the point of being too clever. We are cynical but love laughing at ourselves and others. For one reason or another, certain things just don't rank on our scale of outrageous. Dogs and people relieve themselves on our sidewalks. It is what it is. We are who we are.

To be here is to live it. To live here is to own it. I own it. We all do. Welcome to our fair city. Help yourself to the best food, nightlife, art, people watching and more. Have a good look around. Stay forever if you want. But if you're going to walk around, please respect our way of life. Walking is our primary method of transport, unlike many other places, so I can see why it's not always second nature to everyone. Walking is sacred here, so I'm going to have to ask those who don't understand that to please not f#$% it up for the rest of us. I am happy to set some rules and guidelines if that makes it a bit easier on everyone.

I believe walking around New York City is an art. It's dangerous and often times befuddling. On any given day, a walk to the nearby pharmacy can give a person more than enough anger to fuel a fire deep within. Am I grumpy today because some dude walked into me while typing on his phone? Probably not. But a slightly crappy morning needs only one ill-placed pedestrian to really set me off. Now I can make these observations in a much safer and kinder way than say, slapping a slow-walking, pipe smoking, short-stopping tourist every time I see one... and for me, that is approximately six times a day.

Walking in New York can be a lovely, cerebral experience. You have a chance to connect with the people. In certain areas you can connect with nature. You also have the option of getting lost in your own thoughts. You can completely escape from the rest of your day or life or whatever you need a break from. It is a safe haven out there. But it is also a dog-eat-dog, infuriating experience, particularly if you ever want to actually get somewhere.

It is with this in mind that I focus on you today: cell phone user. Listen, I'm not anti-technology. I think mobile phones are an amazing thing. The ability to communicate with people, in varying ways, at any time of day is pretty incredible. But not everyone is capable of this constant contact. If you believe that you can read or type on your cell phone while walking, all while maintaining an accurate perception of who and what is in front of you and/or approaching you, then fine... keep doing what you're doing. But some people cannot do this. Not even close. They would (and do) actually walk into people or things while engrossed in the witty thing their Facebook friend just wrote. They disturb the natural flow of traffic by alternating their pace as they switch browsers. They block the corner ramps while constructing the perfectly funny yet easy going text to send to that potential third date. They just plain suck. Come on! We're all going somewhere, but the blatant disregard they show towards the rest of us swiftly getting to our destination is rude and unnecessary. Knock it off.

And now a song for all my fellow native New Yorkers:
You're no tramp, but you're no lady... you're the heart and soul of New York City!

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