Thursday, March 11, 2010
My Day in NYC - Part 1- The Subway
One thing I had never done was travel for a day via public transportation - color me spoiled. Honestly there isn't much need to travel via public transportation in Neenah, WI. For one thing the buses stop running at 5 p.m. and for another I have a perfectly good car.
When we first got to the hotel a woman on the elevator told us, "NYC is the friendliest place in the world with the friendliest people in the world. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." I don't think that what she said is untrue, but I do think that she forgot to spread the word regarding that fact to the rest of the population. We found that New Yorkers are indeed helpful and friendly, but only if approached first.
The subway and buses were not nearly as dirty as you would think. There are thousands of people traveling every single day. Most everyone has ipods or mp3 players stuck in their ears and many of them take advantage of the ride for much needed sleep. I found a lot of people that were working full time and also attending school. The subway ride was their only nap time.
No one speaks until you speak with them first. I greeted everyone with a cheery "hello" and received a lot of smiles from other people. I said a word of kindness to others I saw such as "that's such a pretty dress," or "you have beautiful eyes." Everyone I spoke with was polite, smiled, and seemed genuinely pleased. One young man who is finishing school this year said, "I sure hope your enthusiasm is contagious. We need that here. I think we've forgotten how to be courteous."
I don't know if that is necessarily true. People were more than happy to help us find the right train and point us in the right direction. Even two of NYC's finest at the Staten Island Ferry area were joking with us and were very helpful. When I asked, "Are all NYC police officers as cute as the two of you?" they responded with, "No. Not at all. We're the only ones."
I met people from all over on the subway. Most were from NY and had lived here all their lives. Interestingly enough not many of them knew where Liberty Island and the ferry were located. They had never been there. It is safe to say that 98% of the New Yorkers we asked had no idea how to get to the Statue of Liberty nor had they ever visited. The 2% that did were working on Liberty Island, which I'm not sure counts. "We just assume it will always be there," said one young man.
Reading material on the bus was intriguing. One young man from Guyana was reading Tartuffe by Moliere. He was genuinely interested in my impressions on the play. He was rereading it for amusement and not for a class. Another was reading Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegot. This handsome young native New Yorker had read previous Vonnegot novels and found he liked the writing styles. A young girl, no more than 12, had just been to see a production of The Miracle Worker by herself. She was very careful not to bring to anyone's attention that she was travelling alone.
There were all kinds of people from all over the world riding with us in the subways. It was almost like being in a foreign country at times. But even people who eaves dropped on my conversations and happy wishes to others seemed genuinely pleased with a kind word to others. They wished me a good visit and smiled at me as they exited on their stops. So it is possible that NYC has a bad reputation for nothing because I have to say that the people we met were not unfriendly at all. They are just busy and hardworking.