Tis the season for looking around and (when my eyeballs aren’t so frozen from the blustery cold to see two feet in front of me) taking notice of the things that are so special and unique to me about New York City. Here are a few of my favorite things:
The man in the subway station who plays “My Favorite Things” on the saxophone. I know, it’s seemingly an obvious one, but if you know me, then you know that The Sound of Music is my favorite movie of all time, and that song just makes me smile.
The giant inflatable rat. If you’re not from New York, then you’re very likely to have no idea what that means. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s used by labor unions when they feel an injustice has occurred to them. It’s gross, really, and I am certainly not amused that the rat has to be broken out as often as it does, but the fact that someone came up with that idea, and then made the rat, and that people tote the rat all around the city everyday, you have to admit, is pretty crazy funny.
The kindness of strangers. I expect a lot from the people who matter to me, but as far as strangers are concerned, I have realistically low expectations. I’m not a pessimist in the least – I just happen to find it easier to deal with humanity that way. That said, there’s hardly anything I more randomly appreciate than unexpected kindness from strangers. I’m not talking about holding a door open for the next person – that stuff should be a given in civilized modern society (not that it always happens!) – but like the time when yellow cabs were first equipped with credit card machines, and cabbies were rebelling against them by not allowing passengers to use them, and I ended up in one of those cabs. I was relativity new to the city and too timid to scream at another human being in the streets, so I just sat there in shocked disbelief as my cab driver, for less than a $15 fare and brand new credit card machine at his disposal, chose to deny me use of said machine, and left me only two options: (all the while screaming insanely at me as we were pulled over at the curb): 1. Let him drive me to an ATM (with the meter running of course), or 2. (I guess) let him yell at me until he got tired and gave up on either me or his denial that the machine was here to stay. I was mere steps away from my apartment, and I wanted nothing more than to run into my building and up the stairs into the safety of home, but alas, I wasn’t about to leave the man feeling stiffed, even if it was his own fault for not letting me pay in plastic. This is where the kindness part comes in. As my luck would have it, a gentleman was walking by as this was happening, and he decided to care. He interjected and tried to talk the driver down from his impending aneurysm. When that didn’t work, he kindly turned to me and said something along the lines of, “If you would allow me, here is the money for you to pay him; don’t worry about it in the least.” Now, normally when faced with this option, I would say no, because you never know what people’s motivations are, but his sincerity coupled with my desperation caused me to accept his offer. Released form my Ford Crown Victoria holding cell, I thanked him and offered to pay him back if he’d give me his mailing address. He insisted it wasn’t necessary, and he graciously bid me a good night. That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t happen everyday, and when it does, it’s all that much more special. (That’s not to say I didn’t walk around the block before going inside just to make sure he didn’t know where I live. This is New York City after all!)
And last but not least, the homless man outside Food Emporium with his dog in a cart looking more comfy and well-fed than him. It warms my heart that someone in dire straights can have affection for an animal, and reminds me that love is priceless.