Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Life in the fast lane

When I first moved here from Houston, Tara warned me about adjusting to the pace of life in the northeast. It didn’t take me very long to get acclimated.

In most parts of the South, it’s unheard of to walk on the escalators. Here’s it’s fairly common practice, especially in commuter areas. When I used to work in Midtown, I would go through the Lexington/53rd metro station every day, which has a very long escalator. Riding it took you a full 45-60 seconds; walking cut that to maybe 10-15 seconds. And every day, people would walk up or down on the left, while riders stood to the right.

This morning I was heading to a short escalator into Penn Station when two women merged right in front of me and stood side-by-side to ride down. I said “excuse me” and they looked at me like I had two heads. The woman on the left grudgingly slid halfway, and I pushed past her, bumping her with my backpack. As I reached the bottom one of them called out, “you could have taken the stairs easily!” I didn’t respond because there’s no point in engaging with imbeciles when I’m late for my train, but I also didn’t want to be cast as the rude New Yorker, although sometimes I am.

But honestly, I didn’t expect them to block the escalator like that, and even if I did, I still wouldn’t have taken the stairs. Unless you’re an invalid, there’s no reason you can’t walk down an escalator. And keeping people from doing so, especially going into a train station when seconds could mean the difference between catching and missing a train, is incredibly rude to me.

Living in Times Square as I do, several things are starting to really irritate me on the days I choose to walk along Seventh Avenue. People walking slowly while looking at their phones, stopping to take pictures in the middle of the sidewalk with no warning. People who gesture with their arms in crowds pointing at this or that – more than once I’ve had to push somebody’s arm down to walk past them. Guys that stand with signs at the corners advertising comedy shows or happy hours and forcing me to duck under them. People who sit on my stoop to smoke cigarettes and block me from walking into my front door. The list goes on and on.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like where I live. It’s very convenient, and sometimes I do like to feel the energy of the crowd when I’m not in a hurry for something. Walking in New York is like a carefully choreographed dance of near-misses. People walk by you as if the game is to lightly brush your clothes without actually bumping with the body parts under them. This is something I’ve routinely come to accept as a part of life here. But this morning’s escalator-blocking incident just riled me because it was an instance when the non-natives or the just plain stupid natives (whichever they were) don’t respect the pace of the city I live in.

On another note, I bought my copy of Beauty and the Beast today, my first Blu-Ray disc (which is included in the DVD because it doesn’t come any other way). I’ve been thinking about installing my projector (finally) and talked to my building superintendent to borrow the ladder. I already bought all the necessary hardware to install it, so it’s kind of wasteful not to go ahead and do it.

That will mean I might go ahead and buy a Sony Playstation 3 for its Blu-Ray capabilities. So maybe I’ll take some days off soon and devote myself to that project. I wouldn’t really want to use my projector on an everyday basis because from the playpen the picture would be too close and too big, like sitting in the front section of the theater. But it would be cool to have for parties to play movies or games in high-definition, if I ever chose to have people over for dinner again.