Thursday, January 24, 2019

eye contact on the subway

New Yorker anthropology is a very funny thing.
My favorite thing about New Yorkers is the embarrassment of kindness:
I’ll do something nice for you, but please don’t act like it’s a big deal.
I don’t want to be surprised if you rip me off or kill me or steal from me.
I think you’re probably a scam, but I know you’re not, so I’m helping you but please don’t take it personally or make me feel like a good person or act like I’m doing you a favor.
Don’t. Act. Like. I’m. Doing. You. A. Favor.

A woman approaches me in the library and asks to borrow my phone charger, and I don't mind at all letting her use it, but I cringe when she acts like I am giving her my first born.

Please just take the charger and go sit down, lady, I think and realize to my horror that my embarrassment of appearing nice and kind is a new assimilation to New Yorker-ness.

New Yorkers get a bad rap. It's not that New Yorker's are unkind or individualist. They are quite considerate and very kind. It's simply that they are efficient about it: and since the number one rule of this city is not to get suckered, we are very careful to never be surprised if kindness erupts in our faces.

The other night on the subway, a man motioned to me to wake up a woman who, he was concerned, has slept pass her stop. She hadn't. But I brusquely tapped her on the shoulder and asked: what's your stop? Dykeman, she said. We were at 148th on the 1 train. She had a whole 'nother chapter of her My Brilliant Friend audiobook until then.

The man explained that he thought she'd said 96th.

It's rough to sleep through your stop, I agree.

One time I woke up in Coney Island, he volunteers. We all agree that that's dreadful.

There's a sense of caring that makes living on this granite rock of eight million rather bearable.

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