It's been three months since I moved to New York City from Raleigh, North Carolina. There are some aspects of my old life that I've been happy to leave behind. I haven't argued with a seat belt alarm since I've been here. I don't have to worry about putting gas in my car or finding parking. So I guess mostly it's car related stuff. I miss the hell out of everything else.
I've had the pizza here and it was good, like they say. But I found it interesting that you can't go too crazy on pizza toppings. Most places will limit you to three, which is a perfect metaphor for New York. You have to pare down and decide what's really important. Space is limited. Time is short. Options have to be weighed very carefully.
The impression that New York gives is that it's cutting edge. It's an international city, ahead of the curve culturally. But, in spite of being such a modern city, it's citizens are brought to their knees by a problem older than humanity.
That problem is rain.
When unexpected rain hits Manhattan, in the middle of the day, it's like a minor apocalypse is happening. As the drops begin falling, people start to look around. At first they're looking at other people. They're looking to see if they felt it too. They're holding out hope. "Hey, maybe it was a drip from an air conditioner 10 stories up" they tell themselves. They pray they're ONLY being dripped on by a stranger's appliance. In New York, that's optimism. But once precipitation is confirmed, they start looking around at buildings up and down the streets. At this point they're scanning for shelter. Again, time is limited and they have a choice to make.
If you're lucky, you'll be on a street where awnings or construction scaffolding are plentiful. Just like a real apocalypse, those with means will fare a little better. They hail a cab and continue towards their destination, in a little bubble of dryness. But I have neither cab money, nor "spontaneous umbrella purchase" money. I'm in the "find shelter and wait it out" income bracket. How do I spend my precious time while hunkered down under protective scaffolding? By enjoying one of my favorite New York City sights.
Sometimes when it's raining you'll see someone who has just given up. Somehow or another they've reached 100% saturation and have nothing left to lose. They're usually ones who didn't stand a chance in the first place. No raincoat, no umbrella, no fucks left to give. They walk at a comfortable pace with their heads up. It's surreal. Almost like you're watching a piece of performance art. This is their only remaining discourse; to give the weather the silent treatment.
You'll see these poor saps get passed by another group that I call sprinkle sprinters. Let me be clear. I respect the hell out of sprinkle sprinters. They're making due with what they've got; an outfit made of 100% cotton and a dream. A dream that if they run fast enough, no water can touch them. For short distances or light rains, this will actually work alright. Sadly, even if the rain doesn't get you, you WILL be covered in sweat. But, sprinkle sprinters are a proud people who still consider this a form of victory. "Jokes on you, nature. I can soak my own clothes"
No matter who or what you become when the shit goes down, you need to remember one thing. Whether you're a shelter-seeker or sprinkle sprinter, a hopeless sponge person or a fat cat playing angry birds in the back of an Uber, always remember: this will pass. Our society will rebuild and your socks will dry.
So if you're visiting New York claiming you "want to bypass all the touristy stuff" and see the real New York, don't hope for perfect weather in the same breath. Hypocrisy. You want to feel like a real local? You want to experience real, day-to-day New York life? Get caught in a surprise rain storm. You have concerns? Your cell phone might get liquid damage? That would be SO authentic!
If you're really lucky you'll retreat into the subway only to find that trains aren't running because of a "rail condition". At that point, be ready to choose Jets or Giants because you might as well be a resident. Congratulations on finding an experience that no guided tour could ever give.