Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Zoo and the New York City Experience

It's not the skyscrapers or high-profile stores that make up New York City. It's the people. New York City is a giant zoo and all the people within are creatures on display. Buildings don't make a city. The people do in the same sense that animals are the heart of a zoo, not the cages.

It was my first night back in New York City. After 5-6 hours on the bus from Syracuse, I had to take the subway back home. This is when you know you're a New Yorker. When you're at the turnstile ready to swipe and you hear something in the far distance that puts your brain on high alert. The approaching sounds of a train. Judging by how far you estimate the sound to be coming from, you can pinpoint which train is coming. And luckily for me, it was the downtown E train. The one I needed to take. I made a dash for the train with a middle aged man in a suit frantically making a run for it behind me. Without knowing, both of us ended up on the handicap ramp which spirals towards the platform ten times. Imagine running down a ramp that's shaped like a square maze. Both of us are making sharp turns at every corner and running down the straight path until the next corner. I reach the door first and held it open for him. We slumped down onto the seats, look at each other, and let loose a sigh of relief and chuckle at our run. As soon as the train started moving and our laughters subsided, we both instantly took a whiff of the air. A putrid smell swirled around our noses. It could be the man at the other end of the car. It could have been someone who already got off. But both of us sheltered our noses within our arms. Welcome to New York City.

There's also your fair share of bus drivers. You have the ones who see you running down the street trying to catch the bus and graciously stop and hold the door open for you. You have the ones who curse out the man who came out of his car and accused the bus driver of bumping him in the back. You have the ones who let you on for free when they come late. You have the ones who don't care whatsoever and blame their tardiness on traffic.

There are also the people who delight themselves to your misfortunes. An elderly man sat next to me on the bus today. We both got on at the first stop. Seeing as I had a long trip ahead of me, I nodded off and took my usual nap on the bus. The bus starts to come to a halt as I'm about to wake up. The elderly man is still on the bus and tells me, "This is the last stop" with a grin on his face. Cool. I live two blocks away from the last stop. I tell him, "I know" and his grin quickly fades away and he turns his attention back to whatever he was doing.

Don't get me wrong. Like bus drivers, you have your wide variety. Not everyone is out to see you suffer. There was this time in high school when I fell asleep on the train (I sleep a lot on public transportation) to school. I went to school in the Bronx. To many people, you'd find that to be weird. The only Asian to be heading alone to the Bronx. As I was snoozing, a man across from me tapped me on the leg as we reached the end of Manhattan. He asked me if I missed my stop. I said no and went back to sleep. He tapped me again as we reached the first stop in the Bronx. He asked if I missed my stop again. I said no and went back to sleep. This happened two more times until I figured it out and told him I go to school in the Bronx. At least he was looking out for me.

I could go on about the people you encounter in New York City. But there's too many people. Can you fit a description of every animal you find in a zoo in one blog post?

1 comment:

  1. this is so crazy. today i felt so amazed being in a bus or subway seeing people fitting in their time for sleep, reading, or people watching.

    you should think about writing as a side job ;)