Notes From a Narrow Island

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I happened upon some notes I jotted down while I was in New York last August. I figured it’s high time that I shared these as I didn’t post anything much about my trip at the time. Without further ado…

1. People cheering during movie.
In an effort to get out of the searing heat, my mates and I decided to take in a film. Our unfortunate choice was ‘Salt’. At the end, when Angelina Jolie’s character killed the Euro-terrorist-bad-guy people in the audience started to cheer. One of weirdest moments I’ve experienced.

2. Knee braces
So many people wearing knee braces, with various levels of hobbling.

3. Glucose
This is in bloody everything! Now I will admit that I don’t always give as much thought as I should to the food I’m eating. However I started to obsess over this a little bit. Anything and everything imaginable is full of high-fructose corn syrup which is terrible for you. Even a pot of yogurt was full of the stuff.

4. Less reading
I’m used to being on public transport where nearly every one has their nose in a paper or a book. I could probably count the number of times I saw someone reading on the subway on one hand.

Grand Central Station Main Concourse

5. More Crazies
The quality and sheer quantity of ‘crazy folk’ in NYC has London beat hands down. A lot of the time you could tell that they’ve been ruined physically, mentally and financially by drugs.

6. Double bag everything
Any time we went food shopping, despite our insistance, all our purchases were double bagged. A couple bags of crisps? Double bag it! One item? Double bag it! And don’t even think about using your own bag. I tried this a few times and gave up after getting the glaring and a shout of ‘move!’ of my life.

7. More old people and kids.
Compared to London there are loads more seniors and children living in and out and about in the city.

8. Had been asked for directions 3 times by my third day there.
Pretty self explanatory. I recall that I was able to help them at least a little bit.

9. Lots of garbage cans, not a lot of CCTV.
As for garbage cans / rubbish bins, chuck this one down to NYC not having the IRA around for several decades. All major areas of London are void of bins as it’s just too easy to blow them up.

Two One Ways

10. To English sensibilities, people seem quite rude. Same with unspoken protocol.
This one is a bit hard to put my finger on. I missed the ‘unspoken protocol’ of everyone knowing where they had to be and where to go, like in the subyway / Tube for instance. The order, if you will. As for the rudeness, it just seemed people were a bit less patient especially in the service industry. I always got the feeling that I was interrupting them by being waited on.

11. Staten truly is garbage island.
This is a Simpsons reference. Home lands on a garbage barge and asks where it’s headed for. The answer – ‘garbage island’. My mate and I took the ferry over to Staten Island just for the ride and to see what we could find. It turns out, not a lot. There was a Staten Island Museum that was shut. The most interesting thing about the place seems to be that a large part of it used to be a land fill.

12. Tin foil hat crazies at WTC site.
This one shouldn’t be a shocker. All around the World Trade Centre site was all sorts of people peddling leaflets and spouting out conspiracy theories about the 11/9/01 attack. One was even trying to convince a group of school kids.

13. Lots of painted nails / garish finger nails.
So many terrifying sets of long, fake finger nails.

14. People seem to generally look unhealthy.
Maybe because people can’t go to the doctor without dishing out a fortune? There just seemed to be a lot of people hobbling (see knee braces above), coughing and just generally not looking well.

15. Public toilet privacy.
Lack there of. The cubicle walls are much smaller than what I’m used to.

Dense

For more New York City-ness have a look at my photos on Flickr.

Observations from the Ticket Queue

In Cambridge station there are four ticket machines. Three look the same. One doesn’t look like the others. This tends to kind of throw people off.

Let’s talk about the forming of the ticket queues. Sometimes there is one queue, other times there is a queue behind each machine. When we have the ‘uni-queue’ there tends to be a bit of hesitation in using the ticket machine that looks different. It includes looking around to see if other people are going to use it and looking at the screen distantly with squinted eyes. Eventually someone from the back of the queue (or in today’s case, someone who just walked into the station) will just stroll up to the machine and go about their business, with varying degrees of success as we will see.

When there is a ‘multi-queue’ scenario, the queue for the Mystery Machine is usually the shortest. Can it be trusted? It doesn’t look like the other ones…. can I buy the same tickets from it? The person who queue jumped to it today wasn’t able to work out how to buy a ticket, wondered around a bit, tried to queue jump to the Mystery Machine again before getting in the uni-queue with everyone else.

Which would you choose?

The Mystery Ticket Machine is on the left. The rest look like the one on the right. All of them do the same job. I wanted to get a shot of all 4 machines, but there was a couple who just wouldn’t move out of the way. That same couple passed on using the Mystery Machine moments before.

It’s terrible to see such ticket machine discrimination in the flesh.