Discussion Post #3 – A New York Minute
As a transplant in New York City, I often find myself amidst the buzzing building of Penn Station where I await yet another train ride to New Hampshire. I try to get there early as I have made many rookie mistakes of being late, thus leading to the dreaded missed train. So, in my time spent watching minutes slowly pass by I have had the interesting opportunity to observe all the chaos of the lives of fellow travelers. On this particular day, I found myself in a unique situation due to the fear of the Coronavirus. Among the various rushing crowds, I counted twenty seven people walking around with masks on, and eight of those people also wearing latex gloves. Although official information states that these masks are nearly pointless in the efforts to avoid the virus, I tend to agree with those who choose to wear them that go by the saying “better safe than sorry”. Aside from the things I noticed relating to this pandemic, I also observed several happenings which I have found to be common in my many visits to Penn Station. For example, there are many homeless individuals who roam about and sleep inside the train station, and on this day, I saw twelve. I have been taught by New Yorkers to ignore them, but that is not in my nature. One man with a prosthetic leg and a long scraggly beard asked me for my kindness in a donation to his efforts to find shelter. I spoke with him for a minute and I did not have any cash on me, so I gave him some of the snacks I packed for myself for my six hour commute. Talking with this man reminded me that a six hour train ride is not so bad compared to the situation he is in, and I appreciated the realignment of my perspective. I also often see young high school boys with clipboards wandering the crowds and asking people to donate to their basketball team. I have been told by many people here that this is a total scam and to never fall for the innocent faces of youth seeking help for a supposedly good cause. However, I tend to assume the best in people and I always hope that they are sincere, although this might just be a blatant display of how naïve I am to the natural schemes of the city. I saw seven of these boys asking about, and every single interaction I observed ended in the stranger rejecting their request. Some individuals were rude and dismissive to the boys, others ignored them and kept walking, and one woman reacted in the same way I did five minutes before by letting them finish their routine and respectfully declining. Somehow, I find it easier to turn someone down if I at least hear them out first. Lastly, I took a fly-on-the-wall moment to observe the people impatiently watching the screen displaying all of the train departures. As the line with the information for a train to Washington D.C. finally posted its designated track, a sea of people scattered through the crowd to line up for boarding. The group I stood surrounded by swiftly thinned out, and in minutes, steadily grew again just as quickly. My favorite part of Penn Station is watching all the people running around trying to catch their trains. Before moving here, I grew up with this image of the hustle of the city, and I find it to be so satisfying that one of my many “rose-colored” expectations of this place is true. However, it is not so gratifying when I find myself in that very situation, experiencing the panic of a pure New York Minute.