dimanche 9 mars 2014

NY, NY - 2. A Village Concert in the Subway

In large cities, the subway/metro/tube is always the fastest way to get to the major attractions. It is also the fastest way to get lost. New York’s subway is dark and dank,  yet the people that are riding those trains are one united, warm, welcoming village, a concert of human life. The NYC subways are not what the media leads us to believe about NYC subways: not once did we witness any crime or violence; quite the opposite.
Waiting for our train, there were musicians playing jazz and a father and son dancing away, enjoying the underground community atmosphere. The saxophone had such a clear, vibrant personality that, anywhere else, it could be in a club or concert hall. 
We hopped on the first train that came along. It just so happened that the first train we hopped on was also the wrong train. Always remember to look at the front or side of the subway train as it is coming into the station to make sure it’s going in the same general direction (towards the same end point) as you are.
Despite neglecting this vital detail, when I asked the woman seated beside me, “Is this train going to Queen’s?”
She said, “No, it’s going uptown. Where did you want to go?”
Then the man across from her piped in with a, “You need the E train downtown to 7.”
And another woman added, “Across the track is where you want to go, across the track.”
And in a jam session of concert-style voices, each member on the train car gave us their advice, showed us the map, helped us onto the next train and in the right direction. It started with one voice, but soon the entire car we were on was involved in the community music of the night.

When my son dropped his iPod, a gentleman went out of his way to run after him and make sure he got it back. "You dropped this," he said.
You see? New Yorkers are amazing people!

Times’ Square was the same way. It is impossible to capture in a two-dimensional photo the lights and sheer volume of people within the square, and yet, people would kindly step aside for you, ask to take your photo, or pause to answer questions. We had always heard that NYC was a tough, stuck-up kind of town, but all we saw was a diverse group of united NYC family enjoying the city as ‘all for one’.

Paying for activities, with children, was another matter entirely. We brought ice skates with us on this trip to skate in Rockefeller Plaza. There is a small change room off of the side of the outdoor rink, and when we went in to put our skates on, the woman behind the counter asked, “How many?”
“Four,” I said.
“Any children?”
“Yes, two.”
She rang in the price, and the till read, “$97.00”.
“We don’t need skates,” I stuttered, thinking there must be some mistake. Surely she must mean, “$9.70”.
“I know,” she said, “that’s $27.00 each.”
“We don’t need a season’s pass,” I stared blankly, “we’re just here for one night.”
“That’s for one hour,” she stated curtly.
I looked at my husband and he stared back on me. “Come on, let’s go, that’s crazy,” he said.
We were stunned. “Who pays “$97.00 to skate for one hour?! At home we could rent the whole rink for that price!” he said.
Needless to say, not many do pay. There were only four patrons on the ice that Saturday night, and although we watched, we wouldn’t be using our skates for the Fifth Avenue price this trip.

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