New York: City of Extremes

Statue of Liberty, blue skyThe other day, I had one of those “it could only happen here” kind of days.  It covered all ends of the NY spectrum:   complicated, surprising, diverse, friendly, and scary…all at the same time.  Kind of like New York itself. I mean, this isn’t a city for the faint of heart.  You have to be prepared for whatever comes – the sick passenger on the train, the reeking drunk on the corner, the talented violinist in the subway station.  But still, some days surprise even me. So what happened?  Read on.

My day started, as most weekdays do, riding the bus to school with my kids. I realize that for non-city moms, that makes me sound like the single most neurotic parent on the planet: I take the bus WITH my kids.  But it’s not a school bus.  It’s a city bus. And I’m just not ready for my kids to take the crosstown bus alone.

Anyway – my daughter’s eczema has been acting up.  So I gave my daughter her prescription cream, along with a note explaining to the nurse what it was, so she could take it  to school. Now, what happens when you give your kid something really important to take to school?  She leaves it on the bus.

I figured that was the end of it.  It’s just a tube, after all – the prescription info is on the long-lost box it came in.  But I was wrong.  The industrious bus driver noticed a phone number on the random sheet of paper I had written the nurse a note on, called it, and found my husband at work.And that is how I found myself standing on the corner of 86th and Third for twenty-five minutes watching buses go by, waiting for Tony and bus number 1033.  But I got the cream.  I thanked Tony.  And I took his bus home.  You gotta love New York.

Later in the afternoon, on my way to pick up my daughter, I had a NY experience on the other end of the spectrum.  While waiting for a friend to walk across the park to pick up the kids from school (no, I didn’t drive.  We WALK in this town.  1.5 miles there, and 1.5 miles back with the kids. The bus is only in the morning when we’re too tired to function.) While I’m waiting, a bunch of kids from the local Public High School start coming down the block.  I notice a boyfriend/girlfriend fight happening.  Which was sort of quaint, until the boyfriend got a strangle-hold on the sixteen year old girl friend and started dragging her into on coming traffic screaming “B#^&%, I’m gonna kill you.”

While most of the people on the block just stood there and stared, yours truly (bravely? stupidly?) ran down the street SCREAMING “I’m calling 911, I’m calling 911!”  Within two minutes, the police had arrived in force: two running down the street on foot, three police cars, and even a van with police in riot gear  (overkill, perhaps?) The cops cuffed the boy, rescued the girl from the middle of a four lane busy road, calmed down the driver upon whose car-hood the boy had been strangling the girl, and everyone just went along with the rest of their day. Oy.

So – New York has it all: the nice bus driver, the violent boyfriend, the disinterested crowd watching a violent act, the crazy mom running down the street – well, that would be me.

Man, I love this town.


  1. elissaPR says

    You popped up in my inbox first thing this morning – and I thought “I gotta read me some to Hip2Housewife”…and glad I stopped by! Perfect city story! Though I gotta tell ya…not much different from Toronto….

    • says

      Amazingly, I’ve never been to Toronto! Montreal. Quebec City. Vancouver. Lake Louise. But no Toronto. Is it really as crazy as NY? can’t wait to get there! (Plus, then our virtually friendly daughters can meet irl!)

  2. says

    OMG. Crazy! The other day I got a text from my next door neighbor warning me not to walk the kids home yet, because a woman had hung herself from the fire escape on the corner and was still hanging there…

    And I’ve been to Toronto a lot (grew up in Buffalo). It’s like NYC, but clean and everyone’s nice. So, actually, not like NYC at all.

  3. Dimplemonkey says

    The only thing missing is a soundtrack to that day. I’m sure there was one playing in the background somewhere off in the distance. I love NYC, still miss it from 800 mi. away.

  4. anna rabinowitz says

    And I love this post. New York is IT! And, Nancy, you’ve got your pulse on all the pressures.

  5. elissaPR says

    Yes…@SelfishMom is correct…Toronto is cleaner with nice people…so I must apologize for that oversight….oh…did I mention we Canadians apologize alot…we are eternally polite AND sorry…

    And yes…our DDs must meet at some point…they could have their own show….!

  6. says

    So many of my favorite people chiming in on this one. I lived in NYC for nearly 10 years and had so many similar experiences. I’ll never forget also being on the Upper West Side and witnessing a man about to beat up his wife. My friend also called 911. I’m glad you did, too. But we also had the experience where my hubby left his wallet in a cab and the driver dropped it off at the bank. Everything happens in NYC, the good and the bad. It’s real life. Once you leave it, like I did, you’ll always be there in spirit. It’s in my blood.

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