Three scenes from this morning.
1. At the post office: the federal government employees were not-quite-ready when I arrived at 8:00 a.m., although the USPS website clearly states that opening time is 6:00 a.m. and there was a small queue already forming inside. When the lady behind the bulletproof glass finally stepped up to her desk and rang the buzzer for station 2, the elderly woman with the cane standing at the front of the line took more than three seconds to respond, at which point the elderly man who was fifth or sixth in the line started hollering, "TWO! TWO! TWO!" until she began to move. Nobody commented on this. We all went about our business.
2. After the post office: I stopped at Lenwich for a bacon-egg-&-cheese-on-a-roll and an iced coffee (sugared to the F*@&!!!! degree), which is my standard Saturday summer routine, and then I headed back up Columbus to pick up my laundry (ditto). Approaching 85th St., I heard a commotion coming from further up Columbus, a man cursing to the air at the top of his lungs, which meant someone emotionally or mentally troubled or drunk or maybe just high on life was headed my way. Usually when this happens I cross the street, but instead I turned up 85th, figuring I'd wait until he passed, since people in this state are typically harmless but you never know. I got about an eighth of the way up the block and stopped next to a car, and when I turned back around I watched him pick up a heavy metal trash can from the sidewalk, lift it over his head, dump out the contents, and toss it out into the street. Then he continued down Columbus, still shouting, and I headed back the way I'd come. As I neared the corner, I watched two elderly, gray-haired ladies, strangers crossing from opposite sides of the street, silently stoop down to pick up that trash can and set it back on the sidewalk. They didn't say anything to each other, and we all went about our business.
3. After the laundry: On my way back to my apartment, I passed a man and a small boy wearing helmets and standing next to their scooters on a narrow patch of sidewalk narrowed further by construction on a multi-million-dollar townhouse. At first I thought they were waiting for someone to come out of the house, but as I squeezed by them I heard the man say to the boy, "That's so we can all share the sidewalk."
p.s. I read a blog post yesterday by a recent visitor to New York, who spent a day being a tourist and doing touristy things, and it was a lovely post by someone who appreciates what the city is from the perspective of a tourist, but who seemed baffled that anyone would choose to live here, and it ended with something like "I love Manhattan, but it just isn't for me." This is the kind of statement people make all the time, for no apparent reason and in response to no enticement, about a lot of different places but particularly in reference to New York City, and my reaction, as always, was "Thank god."