Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Miles and miles and smiles

Everything and eveyone will tell you that New Yorkers are brash and busy and rude but my limited experience has been the polar opposite: New Yorkers are incredibly friendly. Take Ms S.Wilson at the post office. Yesterday she rendered detailed and incredibly effective assistance to two clueless Australians trying to navigate their way around the US postal system as they sent a gift home for a child's birthday. Ms S. Wilson could not have been more lovely or more gracious.

Then there was Paul, the young man who worked behind the counter in Walgreens. He had been at college all morning and was working through to ten last night, ringing up purchases of vitamin water and chapstick to pay his tuition fees. Paul was friendly and courteous despite his evident exhaustion. He hopes to be a film producer.

My favourite friendly New Yorker (so far) is the cook we saw late last night, cleaning his kitchen in the closed diner at nearly midnight. He was still wearing his little paper hat and apron, alone in his shop with all the chairs stacked on the tables, all the chores nearly done while he wiped the counter one last time. He watched us walking alone in the cold and smiled through the window, a discreet acknowledgment that not everyone is at home tucked up on cold nights.

They're chatty too, the New Yorkers. All of them have mobile phones fixed to their heads, talking loudly and unembarrassed, invariably about relationships. I have overheard so many great conversations about finding true love, relationships that aren't working, relationships that need more work and the different between loving someone and liking someone. The real surprise is that the talkers are more often men than women. I have never heard a man talking about how you can't have lasting love without respect but I did last night down on 5th Avenue. He was maybe in his thirties or forties and walked a sober champagne coloured woolly dog who had no doubt heard it all before.

My favourite New Yorkers so far though are these guys. Their manners are impeccable.

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