New York, a city of strangers?

Jun 10, 2012

in Food, Queens, Word

home is where the heart (and chinese food) is

Living in New York you will probably develop a shockingly close relationship with your Chinese delivery guy, the fluff and fold lady, and the Bodega owner on your corner.

Throughout our occupancy of 2R I had six sublettors, five jobs, four boyfriends, three haircuts, two pets, and one ‘Rooms. The Chinese delivery guy saw it all, weekly. Sometimes bi-weekly, sometimes tri…

Last week we ordered Chinese food from the old place for the first time in our new apartment (thank god we’re still in their delivery radius). After I paid the guy he paused before leaving, looked at me quizzically for a second, and then got on his bike and rode away. This weekend ‘Rooms ordered delivery again, only this time after he paid the guy stopped short again and said “you used to live in 2R? Steinway?” ‘Rooms texted to tell me immediately and my heart almost exploded.

We’ve never exchanged names, just cash and knowing looks. Sometimes in New York City that’s the most intimate you can be with someone. Your delivery man will most likely see you and your home in their most honest states of repair and despair. I have best friends who have never seen our home with so much as a pillow out of place. The Bodega owner knows when you’ve got a hot date and when you’ve had a big night. You could date a man for months before he sees you without makeup in your college sweats, but the fluff and fold laundress knows where you shop for underthings.

It’s a weird quirk of New York I love. Yes, this city is largely strangers passing through space trying not to touch or make eye contact. But then the universe throws open the curtains of anonymity when your delivery guy is so happy to bring your extra spicy shrimp fried rice to a new address and you turn one less shade of invisible.

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Joe June 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Hahahahahahaha! And you’re still in the delivery zone! Win!

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lesley June 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

this is so great. really well written. made me like new york a little bit more. :)

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B.Strave June 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

You know you love it.

Toronto to New York City June 12, 2012 at 2:14 am

I love this haha. It’s true, I’ve never seen as strong a culture of getting things delivered as in NYC.

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jrmcg1 June 12, 2012 at 5:58 am

This story reminds me of a dry cleaning guy near my office. I never actually did any dry cleaning, but we would always save to each other as I passed by the shop. Eventually a wave turned into a ‘hello’ and then conversation as the years went by. Two years, actually we got to know each other.

Then one day he left to start his own business. I has mixed feelings. I had lost a friend, but I also felt happy for him to have moved on from employee to employer.

Nowadays I walk by and I miss the friendly wave. I want to start it back up again with the new guy, but he’s never paying attention to what’s going on outside his window.

I feel like I can totally connect with this article. It gets me thinking that although this is a city of millions of people, it is still a finite number and it’s theoretically possible to know everyone.

Wouldn’t that be amazing? If you could walk down the Street and know eveyone? Or maybe 2 of 3? Or 5 of 10? “hi Jim!” “hey Sally” “good to see you Luisa!” “hey Sean!”

Perhaps that would get annoying. Maybe we all really do just prefer “get out of my way jerk!”

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B.Strave June 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

I think most New Yorkers enjoy somewhere in between an “everybody know’s your name” and a “leave me alone” level of human contact. It has to do with the sheer volume of people in your midst at all times. Emotionally investing in all of them would be too exausting. I always err on the side of zero contact and my favorite thing about New York is that I can spend a morning running errands, and speak almost no words. I think it has to do with my shy nature, but I do truly appreciate the “strong and silent type” relationships I’ve developed in my neighborhood. New Yorkers are creatures of habit, yes this is a city of one million new things to do every day of the week, but for the most part you’re taking the same route to and from the office, walking the dog on the same block at the same times, and you have that waitress at the corner diner that’s always working the Saturday morning shift when you come in for pancakes. These bonds with the community are what largely kept us in Astoria when it was time to move. We wanted a new apartment, but the same guy making our bagels. I am enternally grateful to the universe that this was an option!

Thank you for sharing John!

Design Thoughts~Kim June 12, 2012 at 8:11 am

Love this post!! Its funny how only people in NYC actually KNOW this to be true! Its great that you are sharing the awesome quirkiness!!

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