Random Blog A Musing Farf

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

STREET FRIENDS

I think I finally discovered why I love living in NY so much. And, surprisingly, it is not the food, entertainment options or wonderful parks. It is because I walk pretty much everywhere. Or, if I don’t walk I am on the subway. Sure, there are days when I am exhausted and its raining while I am wearing new suede boots so I have to hop in a cab, but then I miss my favorite part of the City – other people.

I used to think I hated the other people in NYC. I worked in Times Square and it was always overrun with tourists and crowds. But while I still hate tourists and believe their visits should be restricted to November-January and even then they should be locked inside their hotels, I love the other people that make up my neighborhood.

Every morning, on my way to work, I say hello to Oscar, the guy who stands at the subway handing out AM New York to all the commuters. Yesterday, as I entered the subway, he asked me how I was feeling. He had assumed I was sick because he did not see me on Thursday or Friday of last week. I explained to him that on Thursday, an early morning meeting forced me to take a different train and that on Friday, due to Husband’s surgery the previous day, I had worked from home. He was relieved and we chatted for a few minutes about our respective weekends, our dogs and Thanksgiving plans.

I really like Oscar and look forward to our morning chats. He calls me “sweetheart” (probably because he can’t remember my name) and his whole face lights up when I walk down the block. On the few mornings when he has not been at the subway stop, I miss him.

But my exchange with Oscar yesterday morning got me thinking about all the people I see on a daily (or almost daily) basis, and how, even though I engage in conversations with them regularly, I do not know their names or some of the most basic details of their lives. In my head, I call these people “street friends,” as in anyone seeing us talk on the street would assume we are good friends, but that is as far as it ever goes.

Foe example, there is the Guy With Glasses Who Walks His Dog. Tiki always gets excited when we see them on the street (which we do almost every morning) and we always run over to say hello. Tiki and the other dog sniff each other and play, while Guy With Glasses and I chat. I know he is recently divorced and that he lives on the Upper West Side. I also know he works from home, but I do not know his name. There is also Gay Fashionista who waits for the subway in the same spot I wait every morning and we often ride the train together. I know he works in the entertainment industry, has fantastic clothing, is adopting a child with his partner and that he gets off at 34th Street. This morning, I also know he was late for work because I saw him run down the steps as the train doors closed. The ride to work is a lot less fun without him commenting on the size of people’s backpacks.

What do these people know about me? They know I am recently married and that my sister lives nearby. They know about what time I get to work and that I have a dog. They also know about Husband and Tiki’s surgery and that I can wear jeans to work.
There are more people, like the doorman who always gets off shift just as I get home from work and even the homeless man who thanked me for whispering when I walk down the street late at night.

In most others cities, people drive. They don’t walk nearly as much nor do they really take public transportation. So, locked away in their cars, they don’t interact with anyone except to honk their horn at the person who is driving 45 MPH in the left lane. But for me, the cars are mere background to the human interactions upon which I thrive. Maybe tomorrow when I see Oscar, I can see what he thinks of this idea…and remind him of my name.

3 comments:

Suzanne said...

Damn, I love you more every day.

(Incidentally, pick up a copy of Metro NY tomorrow as well as AM NY, and you'll find another wacky column in it by yours truly.)

Anonymous said...

Hello A Musing Farf:
I've decided to also remain anonymous except to say it's me, your high school chemistry lab partner (sophomore year, mr. macclintic's class). Ok. Not so anonymous. Just hoping you remember me.

Anyway, your street friends. I find some of my closest friends are the cashiers at my local grocery store that I see every day. Days go by and I realize I talk to them more often than I talk to people I actually consider friends.

BTW, nice blog. I've saved the RSS feed so know that you've increased your fanbase to outside of tri-state area.

Cheers,
HSCLP (High School Chem Lab Partner)

PTG said...

You do know that I probably should be considered a "tourist" now that I have moved away. I hope that doesn't mean you want me to stay in a hotel and only come for a visit in the winter... That being said, I miss the walking too. I am taking the bus to work even though it takes longer because I refuse to become the "drive in my car alone commuter guy."