Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Crazy week

With the holidays approaching, we have been very busy at our respective jobs, trying to meet deadlines. We won't really be able to relax until Friday after work. We both have the 24th and 25th off, and also the 31st and 1st, which is nice.

We are starting to understand the New York mentality a bit more--how people tend to think here vs. California. There is an interesting attitude of both entitlement and courtesy, of trying to behave civilly in a crowded, stressful environment, while at the same time feeling like, Aren't I entitled to (fill in the blank--this spot on the subway, this place in line at the supermarket, etc.)?

It's not always easy to be courteous, but New Yorkers really do try. We hear "excuse me" throughout the day as people navigate the subways, the stores, the sidewalks. Rarely have we seen anything nasty happen between people: maybe once or twice we have heard people get loud on the subway if one person thinks another person has gotten in their way on purpose (highly unlikely, but sometimes tensions run high).

The only thing Mary really hasn't gotten used to: the panhandlers on the subway. And also the poor people who sleep on the subway or in the subway stations. We see someone like this basically every day, in one form or another. The subway panhandlers make Mary the most uncomfortable. You know, you want to believe what they're saying--sometimes they do seem legitimate--but at the same time, you figure the money just goes toward another bottle of Ripple.

Being confronted with this type of situation, on such a regular basis, has an interesting effect. Mary thought she would get used to it--but instead, she has become more and more uncomfortable with it. Not sure what to do about those feelings of discomfort, either. Back in SLO, for awhile she carried some business cards of the homeless shelter and handed them out to panhandlers--probably no one actually took action, as a result, but at least she felt like she did SOMETHING. For its size, SLO had (has?) its fair share of homeless people and beggars on the street.

So what do you do? Look down and pretend not to hear? Look them in the eye as you refuse to give them money? Mary's tempted to put headphones on and pretend to listen to her iPod (which she doesn't on the subway because it's simply too loud to hear anything without wrecking her eardrums).

No comments: