I want to leave New York City
To start off, yes, I am a country mouse. I am proud of it and have never tried to hide it. Yes, I was born right here in the same area of Queens I am living now, but I was raised in Florida surrounded by huge open spaces. Putting all that aside, I am very easy to adjust. I can fit in pretty much anywhere and pick up the rhythm easily. So, what is it about New York that makes me want to leave?
I was, as usual, in a rush to get to the train on my way to work one afternoon. As I neared the 74th St entrance near the old Eagle Cinema I saw the expected “Shaky Guy with Long Nails on Milk Crate” and was suddenly stopped by a body on the floor. This was “New Guy in Traction Socks and Pristine White Soccer Shorts.” I paced around him to check if there was any signs of movement and to look for a cop. He was breathing, no thanks to the 30 or so people that kept stepping around him. I bent over him and started yelling at him, “ARE YOU OK?!?” I kept thinking that if wasn’t so freaking OCD, I could have checked his pulse or helped him in some useful way. I was to scared to touch him to do anything. So, I kept yelling at him. A gray haired man walks up next to me and pulls out his camera, focuses, snaps and exclaims, “This sort of thing only happens in New York!” His rather thick accent would have been interesting in almost any other situation. I looked up and barked, “What?” as he walked away pretending I wasn’t part of this miserable tableau. But, that is the sort of thing that only happens here… That one human finds it is the appropriate response to see another in distress and take a picture to share with friends and loved ones. Perhaps this man laid out on the floor will be his new Facebook profile picture. What a conversation starter that will be!
I stood there stunned by what had just happened and another guy walks up while on his phone and states to me, “Pssshhhht, this guy in such bad shape and this other one taking pictures!” and continued his walk smiling and shaking his head in attempted disapproval. It was surreal the complicit nature of the people around me. It was as if the whole street had agreed to not show any compassion at all. I walked up and down the street to look for a cop again, but ended up calling 911. As I was on the phone with the dispatch a Police SUV drove by slowly and continued on their merry way. After that I gave her the address and answered the question, “Is he White, Black or Hispanic?” He’s unconscious how the hell do I ask him? It later dawned on me that it makes it easier for the paramedics to identify the person who is passed out on the sidewalk, lest they confuse them with the other guy that is just napping on the sidewalk. After that I just had to tell her that I couldn’t stay and wait for the EMT’s. I am sure no good would have come of it… And talking to the EMT’s would have meant having to touch the guy. OCD trumps Compassion. I have problems. It was a crappy day all around. I just wish I had had the quickness of response to have slapped the camera out of that idiot’s hands… I’ll be ready for you next time.