Friday, September 23, 2005

New York Reflections

I guess you could call me a frequent visitor to New York. I’m in the city at least once a month for a user group meeting, training, or just as a plain old tourist. This week I’ve been one of the “commuter bots” that wake up at ungodly times, rush to the train station with their Starbucks Venti Moca something or another Latte and promptly go back to sleep for 72 minutes. I don’t know how these people do it every day, I couldn’t.

The training facility for this particular course is in lower Manhattan. I’m pretty comfortable with the subway system in New York, so I had a good idea which train to catch and that walking 3 or 4 blocks wouldn’t kill me. While walking around at lunch time one day, I strolled through Battery Park and came upon “The Sphere”. The Sphere was located at the World Trade Center four years ago when evil came to my backyard. This giant, scarred orb remains in this now vibrant community as a reminder that although time marches on, those who came before us will never be forgotten.

Next to “The Sphere” were impromptu tributes to those that died on that fateful day. A boy scout troop from somewhere in the Midwest had left a plaque. Somebody left a flower. There was a picture of somebody that sacrificed their life on that day to save others. The whole experience was overwhelming, more so, in my opinion, than seeing the empty spot where the WTC stood.

Walking the streets of New York on the weekend is different than during business hours. On the weekend, people are casually walking along drinking their $6 cup of coffee chatting about the weeks events and letting their dogs sniff every hydrant along the way. Rush hour turns these same people into machines silently screaming "GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!" with their eyes and expressionless face. On the weekend you can look lost and some Golden Retreiver walker will ask you where you are going and suggest you go up 41st Street instead of 42nd Street to avoid the crowds. On the weekday you have to ask three people which way to go and you'll be lucky if you get a point in the right direction. It's not that they're rude, they just have some place to be and the 5 train was delayed and they had to change to a local train at 14th street and ...

There's a lot of great things about New York, but I'm sure it's tough living there. If I could live and work North of City Hall, I think getting around would be pretty easy. You see, the Streets go East/West and the Avenues go North/South. The street numbers go up as you go North, the avenue numbers go up as you go West. Usually within a block you can tell if you are going in the wrong direction or not. Lower Manhattan is a differnt story. It's like another political party suddenly took control of the Street Naming Division and decided to start giving streets actual names instead of numbers. And forget about any grid of North/South and East/West.

I don't know if I am cut out for living in Manhattan. Sure it would be fun. For a while. I think I'd miss cutting the grass.

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