Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Battle of the Walkers

I know it was the point of the story... I'm a Noo Yawker blah blah blah I don't talk to people. But why not buck the trend?
Poster on Pub With No Beer commenting on The Duel

Do New Yorkers talk to people? Can you stop them?

On the streets, on the buses, in the subway, wherever there are New Yorkers, you will hear the sound of New Yorkers talking. Can't shut 'em up.

Take my last two bus rides for example. Going to work. The Second Avenue bus.

The route is slightly different this week. No longer stopping at 86th Street due to subway construction. "Where does this bus stop?" a woman asks the driver at the stop at 90th Street. "Hurry up and just get on what does it matter?" yells a passenger. "I wasn't talking to you," comes the reply. And so on till the woman decides to get on the bus. As we pull out the driver picks up his mike to make an impromptu announcement, "This bus he ain't no stopping at 86th any time soon, and so all you people just have a nice day [chuckle chuckle]".

"I like that driver," a fellow passenger interrupts me from my reading. "Is that one of those Kindles?" I'm about to answer when a child yells, "I spy with my little eye something beginning with 'E'". "An eye?" offers a woman opposite. "Yes I like the Kindle?" I answer, raising my voice to be heard over an ongoing discussion on the stock market taking place between two strap-hangers directly above us. The I-spy kid is telling his mother how he can't WAIT to get to school. "Can we RUN?" he asks.

My reading interrupted, I start to listen. It's useless. "I spy!" I yell. "Something beginning with 'N'". Surprisingly he gets it right. "Noise?"

I have a headache already yet, and the working day hasn't started.

Nine hours later. Same bus, but this time going home. We have "kneeling buses" in New York. Wheelchairs and walkers are wheeled with owner, onto a platform that raises and lowers them on and off buses as required. I have just turned on my Kindle and a walker alights. Pushed by a maniacal-looking woman about sixty.

The walker has a carrier - like those old-fashioned bicycle baskets that hooked onto the handle bars. "You gotta fold that walker M'am," says the bus driver. "Take the basket off and fold it to make room for the other passengers."

"No," she says. "I need it and I am getting off soon." He shrugs and we continue. "Crazy people!" says the man sitting next to me. "She can't help it, says the man to his right. "Sure she can." And so on.

"It's the City's fault," says man #1. "Letting all the loonies out of the nuthouses." He says it loudly. "Speaking about yerself!" the walker-woman laughs.

The next stop, Oh no! Another walker gets on. Same story. No she won't fold it. And walker #2 promptly sits directly opposite walker #1. Now nobody can get past, either to get on or off.

A lunatic with several teeth missing is standing in the stair-well of the bus. He's holding a large (and empty) plastic cat carrier. "You can't stay there, it's against the law," says the driver. "Move in."

For some reason Mr Gap-Tooth chooses to sing his answers. He's a tenor. Not bad, either. "Man oh man, the driver says to me, this cat bag ain't going nowhere," he sings, waving it wildly around in the air. "Yes sirree," he sings as the bus lurches forward. Walker #1's basket topples off and over. A decade-old newspaper and several supermarket bags fall out, contents rolling everywhere.

A young woman attached to an iPod is trying to manoeuvre her way between the fallen groceries but can't make it past the two walkers. Walker #1 suddenly decides she's a sensitive soul.

"I feel like the whole bus is staring at me," she wails. "

The iPod woman has picked up a can of tomato soup and is staring at it, as if wondering where to put it.

I get up. Time to leave, I think, as the man on the right of me is starting to complain that no one has time to be civil nowadays. A nice man on my left makes some room by clambering up onto his feet onto the seat and crouching there.

I edge between the two walkers and manage to get off the bus a couple of stops before my destination. Two Jewish guys are standing at the bus stop. I know they are Jewish because of their hair and hats. One is standing with both hands extended - in one he holds a furled upside-down Balinese umbrella, in the other, a lemon. His companion approaches me.

"Are you Jewish?" he asks.

"No," I smile back.

"Have a LOVELY evening," he says.

Ah, no wonder I love this city!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't know if would survive in that milieu. Maybe when I was younger, much younger. Like in my twenties or thirties. As I've said before, paths not taken.

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