|NYC is loaded with weird people–especially on the subway.|
I’ve written a lot of great things about New York so far. Walking through Central Park in the fall, exploring the award-winning cuisine, and meeting a diverse collection of people are some of the reasons that, so far, I love living here. But for non-New Yorkers, especially those in rural areas who haven’t visited NYC or have spent limited time here, that’s a hard concept to understand, and mostly for one reason: New York gets a bum rap.
I submit that it’s mostly undeserved. An outsider may view New Yorkers as rushed — we say that we’re just trying to get to work. Tourists may think we’re reckless when crossing the street — we walk the same route so much that we’ve learned to predict when the lights are changing.
But there’s one thing about New York that really is accurate: We have some plain old weird people in this city.
In the city’s defense, it has a huge population — 8.2 million and growing as of 2011, a higher population than 40 of the states in this country. So in terms of ratios, I would estimate that we likely have the same number of sane-to-crazy residents as anywhere else in the US. However, given how densely populated the city is, it certainly seems like the lion’s share of weirdos and wackos are inhabiting the island of Manhattan.
I recently began a ‘9-to-5’ gig near Penn Station, which means I have approximately 20 minutes each morning and evening to engage in firsthand observational research of my fellow subway passengers. And in support of the theory above, most of the commuters I’m with seem content to drink their coffee, play with their phones, or generally uphold the strong New York tradition of blatantly ignoring everyone around them. But every once in a while, I get the joy of being near someone whom I would normally say must have been raised in a barn, except for the fact that I doubt most New Yorkers have seen an actual barn. (Shocker, most aren’t actually red.) But you get the idea.
Take, for example, the midtown rapper I had the pleasure of sitting next to. Dressed in a suit and clutching a commuter bag, he fit right in with the rest of the yuppies headed home for the day — that is, until he decided to start rapping — loudly and explicitly. And his topic of choice – despite the obvious group of young, chaperoned students near us – was the kind of sexual conduct that could make Howard Stern blush.
On a positive note, the lesson I learned from this is that if I’m ever in need of personal space on a crowded train, I’ll loudly shout every obscene word in my vernacular until a seat becomes available.
Another instance – observed in a different part of town, (in case anyone thinks I’m picking on the JMZ line) – involved a woman clearly out running errands, as evidenced by her jeans, sneakers, and casual sweatshirt. (Occasionally people in NYC do let fashion slide for an afternoon.) I actually recall noticing this woman and feeling a sense of solidarity, taking note of our similarities as young, 20-somethings going about our business normally on the subway – that is, until she started to get naked in the middle of the subway car.
Now, I have no problem with anyone – especially women – changing into comfortable shoes while commuting, which is what I assumed she was doing whilst pulling off her shoes. I was relieved of that notion when the shoes were followed by socks, which were followed by the very jeans she was wearing.
|Electric Blue and Velvet Stretch Pants are a disturbing combination|
Granted, the train wasn’t extremely crowded, and she had on what, I suppose, could generously be called “shorts” on a smaller person, but it certainly gave me pause. She was speedy about it, however, quickly going from jeans to – and I wish this was a joke – tight, electric blue, velvet stretch pants. If you ever watched ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ you should know this look isn’t exactly flattering. Although, if you’re willing to strip down to your skivvies on public transportation, aesthetics may not be your primary concern.
With strange encounters like these in mind, the important detail to note is that New York is always – always! – entertaining. So challenge yourself —the next time you’re on the subway, leave the iPad or book at home and watch your fellow passengers instead — if nothing else, you’re bound to come up with a great story to share at your next Friday happy hour.