Tuesday, July 10, 2007

As Good As It Gets

The guy in the patent white shirt of Mid-Town swaggers to the counter, carelessly tossing his hair 'product' and with a flourish pulls out the card, his iPod up so loud he can't hear the sullen faced cashier asking him to swipe it.
The blonde in the typical white summer dress fumbles with her half caff (rhyme half with caff to get it right) soy mocchachino and her pocketbook while reaching for the Trident. Of course, it wouldnt occur to her to move everything to one side while collecting her things to make way for the guy in the cheap shirt, the back damp with sweat who is in a hurry. Of course, she does notice when I side step her, a dirty look but I couldn't care less.

The other suit at the subway turnstile, unmindful of the approaching train or the people behind him who want to get on it lest the MTA in its infinite wisdom decides for a 20 minute delay before the next train gets there. Even when they walk down the stairs, it's on the wrong side and with a casual step that puts him in place in the Hamptons, never mind the lady struggling with her groceries looking fervently at the goddamn doors that slide shut leaving her to wait in the heat for another train. Of course, his pulls up soon after.

People stumble in. There's more than enough place toward the middle of the train but instead, you have shoulders pounded by the sliding doors of the fucking train, hands held up high in the Laughing Buddha, trying desperately to press against the roof of the carriage so as to not to fall over. Never mind touching the Brooks Brothers suits or pressing up against the Pierre Cardin ties (Hermes would never be in the subway), people stuck on the subway because others can't lift their heads or realize that a side step could make way for another person, someone who just may be in a tearing hurry to get home or the night shift.

Sullen faces of women with manicured hands grasping the metal pole, almost appropriate if karma had its way, sullen over the fact they can't sit, almost as though the make up on their face and the blond treated locks warrant space, air conditioning and service in the subway to use their TMobile Sidekick.

You get out of the subway and face two sets of stairs. People run down one flight because the train has pulled up and it's the one they need to be on. The rest seem to trudge up, unmindful of the fact they may be on the wrong set of stairs, a flash of irritation if someone else is coming down instead of going their way.

The sense of entitlement, to space, to their way, is stifling, it's as though there is nothing left beyond their bubble. And when you take enough of these bobble headed bubble carrying people, you are always impinging on their apparent illusion of control.

The purposeless life, the motions, the pink shirt and backward baseball cap, the stressed denim jeans and the brown sandals, the well manicured fingers gripping designer bags whose price while may be sky high, is less boggling than the sense of entitlement as those fingers wrap around the straps, the sunglasses worn in the subway, the white wedding, the picket fence, holidays in Vermont and the circle of life repeats itself, all the while the bubble remains, of an individual, of a society.

No wonder Jay Leno can walk down the street with a map and have people pin a label saying "Iraq" on Australia.

For just one moment, to take that sense of entitlement and put in perspective, the blonds down 5th Avenue, going into the Abercrombie and Fitch at 2 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, knowing they aren't tourists from the disdain and upturned noses of faces sucking on lemons too long and too used table service, to take them and turn their world upside down.

To actually look at the person while thanking them, to smile at someone as you open the door for them instead of remembering mechanically it is what you are supposed to do, to actually offer your seat to someone, to walk a pace faster because a train has pulled up, unmindful if it is yours or not, to thank someone going out of their way for you. It's not that hard.

I suppose this vitriolic stems from a guy I saw while headed to lunch -- he had a sandwich board selling something or the other, face craggy, baseball cap pulled low, trying to get someone to take his flyers, the Blackberries and the Fendis passing him by. And I wondered where he came from, why he was where he was, where was he trying to get to. Would his answers put into perspective those of the white shirts of MidTown?

I run up the stairs to my place, two at a time. I walk in to my room, everything in it is mine, even the empty plate has the remains of a meal, but it is mine. Its and extension.
A quick phone call.
"Hmmm", replies the groggy voice.
And in that instance, all is forgotten and I slip into something I love.

1 comment:

wendigo said...

good post, if a little senti towards the end. the city does that to most, makes them bubble-beings. that's irritating, but inevitable. i say down with ipods. in fact, http://skippin-trippin.blogspot.com/2005/10/plug-in.html