Last night we went to eat dinner with friends. We took the train, and since it was a Saturday night (oh who am I kidding, since it’s New York), it was super crowded. We went down the stairs toward the street and Jane is a slow climber. She’s also a slow eater, and a slow lipstick-putter-oner, and anything else that requires precision as to make her look good, healthy, or prevent injury. In a word, my baby is cautious with a capital CAUTIOUS.
So Fayez was walking in front of her, she was following him holding onto the rail, and I was behind her. The crowd was surging around us, people rushing around me and past because I get it, not everywhere has the spare five minutes to climb down 12 stairs. And that’s when I hear the voice.
“JESUS. COME ON LADY, GOOOOO. JESUS!”
I immediately know that this rude assholamia (cue Jim Carrey Pet Detective voice) cannot see the small adorable child in front of me who cannot traverse staircases with the quick legs of a gazelle. Let’s be honest, I do not have gazelle legs either. Never have, never will. Thank you sturdy English-Scottish genetics.
But this guy just sees the back of my head and thinks, “No reason for a grown young-ish woman to be imitating a sloth right now.” He also thinks that yelling the name of one who so many consider the Lord and Savior is going to expedite things as well.
I turn to face my verbal gooser and to my surprise, make eye contact with a ten year old boy. His mother is standing beside him, and her facial expression indicates she is totally fine with him yelling and swearing at a grown woman.
At this particular juncture I have two choices.
- Give in to my urge to wrestle an alligator, or in this case a small boy, and put him in a headlock.
- Decide that this will not, after all, be the day I’m featured on the 10:00 news, and take the high road and ignore Damien and his host mother.
But it’s hard. It’s hard living in a place where people, and even children, are consistently and outspokenly rude. It grinds you down. It makes you stick your elbows out when boarding subway cars because at the end of the day, it’s a “you against them” mentality and being polite will just get you shoved or conned.
And just as I was about to get all “RELEASE THE KRAKEN,” I remembered the really nice blond lady who gave up her seat for Jane on the train. I remembered the singer who serenaded the train car with “My Girl” last week and never asked for a tip. I remembered the group of men at a bus stop who consistently refuse to board before all the women and children. I remembered the homeless man who sat nearby me last week, winked and tried to give me an empty gum wrapper.
I’m assuming it was his late Valentine’s day gesture.
The thing is, kindness and chivalry aren’t dead in this city. They’re here. They’re just mixed in there with other people who aren’t kind or chivalrous or are simply exhausted and cranky from trying to grind out a life in a city that doesn’t make it easy. And it’s so easy to see a rude kid barking at you for going too slowly on a staircase and think, “The next plague simply cannot get here soon enough.”
But there’s good will too. There are still kind people. And as February starts to wind to a close, I still see it as the love month. There are still red-hearty-chocolaty-empty-gum-wrapper-gift things to like about this city.
And even better, I managed to avoid being featured on the 10:00 news.