Isn't it funny in such a big city in New York City, it never fails that you bump into someone you know? Or, that as you go about your day, you encounter the same people over and over again?
There are many people I meet on a regular basis:
Every morning, when I walk home from the gym, I often see the same old lady walking down the street, pushing a metal cart filled with some groceries. "Walking" is a strong word. Because she takes such small steps with straight legs, it looks like she is walking in place. It's a wonder that this woman can get anywhere. And sometimes when I see her one morning on one side of the street and the next day on the other side, I wonder if it literally took 24 hours. In addition to the walk, with her black eye brows and permanent scowl, the woman looked really familiar to me, in a strange cartoon-like way. And then I saw Enchanted this weekend and I realized who she reminds me of. I am sure she's a really nice person though.
Anyone who lives in New York knows about the people passing out free newspapers by the subway stations. But our man handing out the Metro paper at the 77th Street stop really is unmissable with his chanting of "Me-tro! Me-tro! Get your morning Me-trooooo!" I sometimes find myself singing the song to myself at various points of the day.
There are the regulars who I see at the gym. The pregnant woman. The really ripped black guy. The very high-school gym class male trainer who exclusively seems to work with male clients. The other day, I was carrying a bosu to the exercise mats to do some ab work, and I accidentally banged it against a man who was lying down on the mat. "I am so sorry," I said immediately. While most people would say, "it's okay" this man groaned and scowled and shot me dirty looks. "Are you okay?" I finally asked. He sniffed. "Yeah I am fine. Just watch yourself. We're all just trying to work here."
I went to the other side of the mat, and watched this man go back to lying down where he was, an ancient library book pressed up against his face. Once in a while he would do a few lackluster sit ups or leg lifts while still reading. I hated him immediately. And now I see him everyday, reading obscure books while lying down on the exercise mat apparently "hard at work."
On the subway, I hardly see the same people. But sometimes I will take the bus home, and I am amazed to find the same mother and daughter sitting in the same seats as the day before, or the man with tourette's syndrome or the grumpy wheelchair man who talks under his breath.
I have been thinking about this topic all week, and I wondered if anyone noticed me in their daily routine, and sure enough, I was in the elevator this morning, going to the gym and eating my usual banana, when the woman standing next to me says, "You usually go to the gym at 6:30, right?"
"Yeah," I answered her, "I don't have to work today, so I am going a little later."
"I am not working today either," she told me. "That is when I go to work, and I see you all the time. I didn't recognize you, but I recognized that banana."
Isn't that weird? I just have this vision that New York really only has about fifty people in it, but we're so consumed with ourselves and our lives that we don't realize that we're whizzing past the same characters on the street all the time. And if we're lucky, maybe we'll just notice that one of these persons happens to eat a banana every time.