Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hotel and Manhattan

I may not do as much travelling as some, but I have stayed in my fair share of hotels. After much detailed testing and experimentation (ok, not that detailed) I have come to the conclusion that hotel lamps are actually designed to frustrate travelers. (Or I am idiot and incapable of using them)

Every time I stay in a hotel the first thing I do is try and turn on the desk lamp. Usually this entails turning some sort of nob first right, then left, then back to the right a few times. I repeat this process with all of the lights in the room. If I am lucky I get at least two of the lamps to turn on. So far I haven't gotten completely unlucky and had no lights turn on. I am, however, prepared for the possibility. I never travel without at least one flashlight, and you can always count on the bathroom light to be a switch.

So, today I had to go back into Manhattan to pick up my passport and the books my Little ordered for me. Everything went well. I now am the proud owner of one US passport with one South Korean VISA in it. I also have two William Gibson novels to keep me company and a fabulous book by Lee Iacocca.

After retrieving my books, I stopped to have a smoke on the bench outside of the store. While sitting there a young woman almost got run over by a bike messenger. I confess that an Iacocca rant about GW was holding my attention when the incident occurred so I'm not entirely sure what happened.

The woman, however, loudly accused the bike messenger of running the red light. The messenger, on the other hand, informed the street that any woman dizzy enough to stop dead in the middle of a NYC street deserved to be hit by something larger and heavier than a bicycle. They continued to exchange pleasantries for a couple of minutes and then parted ways.

A scene like this probably wouldn't have taken place in Pittsburgh, but even if it had I feel sure that what happened next would not have.

An older man in a very expensive suit detached himself from the crowd of people waiting to cross the street. He jogs a bit to catch up with the bike messenger and proceeds to begin screaming at the man over the top of my head. The bike messenger stops, and starts screaming back, also over my head.

This goes on for probably 30 seconds. (a 30 seconds that seemed like much longer to me since it was taking place over top of me) Right about the time I decided I'm done having either of these men yell over me, the messenger mounts his bike and starts up the street. Wonder or all wonders, the old guys jogs up the street after the bike, all the while still screaming. The bike stops and the messenger yells back, then tries to move on. The old guy chases him some more. This continued for the length of the block, at which point the bike messenger took a sharp left and sped off.

New York is a strange city full of strange people.

My own personal weirdness for the day was not over, however. On my trip back to the subway two different people stopped me and asked me for directions. Stranger still, they asked for directions to two of the five or six places I am capable of getting. I guess I should be proud of myself for being comfortable enough on the street to be mistaken for a New Yorker. Or I just looked as annoyed and indifferent as the natives. Either way I agree with Jim Croce, "New York's not my home."

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