Day 2 in NYC
After leaving our hotel yesterday morning, we took the subway to the Bronx for a tour of Yankee Stadium that included…
…the press box, where I sat in the first row in the seat normally occupied by someone from the New York Times. Wouldn’t that be a great job?
…the Yankee dugout.
…where we encountered the Yankees 1st Base Coach, Tony Pena.
Mid-afternoon after the tour, we took the subway to Times Square…
This was not our first visit to Times Square, but the experience is still culture shock for simple, conservative, quiet folk like us. We had two goals for our visit to TS – the Yankee Shop on 42nd street and Carmine’s, a Southern Italian restaurant in the theatre district. The food at Carmine’s is served family style, so it was a bit expensive for just the three of us, but for larger families it would be perfect. We had enough food left over for at least 2 more adults. Our waiter, an opera singer from Florida who is hoping to make it big in NY, was very friendly and the service was great. It was a welcomed respite from the hyperactivity – and is it fair to say “debauchery”? – on the streets outside.
From Times Square we took the subway to the East Village where we met our niece and her boyfriend for coffee and dessert before catching the subway back to our hotel.
For the first time since we began making trips to NYC in the fall of 2001 when Nick was a freshman midshipman at Kings Point, we are not staying in Great Neck near the academy, but in a much more ethnically diverse area that somewhat challenges our comfort zone. To be a little more specific, Emily has labeled this trip our “ghetto experience.”
It’s been good for us, actually. Though we live quite modestly back home on Pollywog Creek, we are rather sheltered and probably a bit spoiled, with our full pantry, clean dry beds and our sunny and green plot of earth. We have our own vehicles, washer and dryer, and hot running water. And so much more.
Just spending so much time on the subway this trip has been enlightening. I’m not sure that I am strong enough to live here and do this every day. It is certainly physically challenging for me right now with my knees (the stairs are a killer), but it is even more challenging emotionally. My niece’s boyfriend, a NYC native, provided a helpful perspective when I expressed my observations that people are not particularly friendly, but seem distant and unhappy. He said that most of the people we see during the week were supposed to be somewhere ten minutes ago and are probably working at least 60 hours a week trying to make enough to pay their bills. “Zoning out” in public is one of the ways they cope with the stress of living here.
We have noticed that every other person on the subway has an iPod and is “plugged in”. “That is part of zoning out,” my niece added. “All day long I’ve been stepped on and pushed, and my personal space has been violated – ‘plugging in’ is a way of ‘zoning out’ and recreating that space.”
“So, if I smiled at you on the street,” I asked her boyfriend, “you wouldn’t smile back?”
“I might, but most people wouldn’t.”
“Because they have ‘zoned out’ they probably don’t even see me,” I commented.
My attitude on the subway back to the hotel had been tested. Instead of feeling frustrated and irritated (among other irritations, men do not give up their seats for women), I was filled with compassion and because there was nothing else I could do – I prayed. I silently prayed for the people around me – a group that changed with every subway stop.
About 10 minutes into the trip, Louis remained standing while Emily and I found seats together and I told her what I was doing. “Because of that?” Emily asked, pointing to a sticker above one of the windows printed with the word “Please” above a series of activities that were not allowed on the train. Next to the word “please” someone had written “pray”. I had not even seen it.
In just a little while, we will be back on the subway, headed for the Bronx and Yankee Stadium – this time for an afternoon game against the Toronto Blue Jays. I am praying even now that God will surround us with those – on the subway and on the streets – for who He wants me to pray, and I’ll smile at them even though they probably won’t smile back.