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New York City meets Munich

August 22nd, 2001 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Tourists

Times Square is not for lovers. 42nd Street is not romantic. I know because I live here.

This is not a place to walk hand in hand, strolling lovingly under the blinking lights. Do not drape your arm protectively around your loved one as you mosey down the sidewalk, looking up the signs above. Do not do these things, because you get in my fucking way. I love my lady too, but when the sidewalk narrows, and the bodies start getting close, we have the sense to release each other, and assume our responsibility as pedestrians. This is called “courtesy.” You may think our love for each other is less because we don’t remain glued at the hip as we saunter down the boulevard, gazing into each others eyes, oblivious to the fuming masses trapped behind us. That’s not love, it’s rudeness.

Some tourists complain New Yorkers are rude. Actually, we are generally very polite and kind to each other, because we have to be. New Yorkers save all their rage for people who are rude first. Then it comes out in a jet of hot, scathing bile. Visitors can avoid this by remembering one kindness that all New Yorkers treasure: keep out of the way.

For while Times Square and the streets around may be an exotic adventure for you and yours, for me, it is an obstacle to be crossed. And you are either part of the problem, or part of the solution. For those of us who live here, we must do this every day. Take in the sheer volume of people, pressing against each other, moving along the sidewalk. As a visitor, I am sure it is overwhelming. Now imagine living here. We residents are confronted with New York City every day. We learn how to swim the currents of humanity and subhumanity that flow in our streets so as to get as little of it on us, and to get to our destination with sanity and body intact. In areas where the current is strong, like Times Square, it doesn’t take much to turn the whole things into a swirling mess.

Think of the native New Yorker, like myself, as part of the local fauna. This is my native habitat. In these ecologically minded days, we are taught to leave the environment as we found it, and to not disrupt local ecosystems. You should no more drive an SUV through a bird sanctuary as you would stand on the corner of 8th and 42nd, staring at the sky slackjawed and bewildered. Both things cause great harm to the local life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to make the damn traffic light…

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