I was just taking one of my early morning walks. I’m trying to remember to get up every couple of hours and leave my computer behind and walk around the block. Otherwise my back and neck turn to steel. Lately I’ve been writing mysteries and it’s easy to get stuck on my chair and in my brain as minutes turn to hours.
Anyway, today is Monday and often on Mondays I see New Yawkers pull into the Triplex Parking lot eagerly depositing their trash in the dumpsters. Could be Gorham and Norton’s or 20 Railroad’s or Baba Louie’s. Today, it was two spiffy looking guys in their thirties and their Mercedes SUV who, without a moment’s hesitation or embarrassment, took their white plastic garbage bags and strolled over to 20’s dumpster.
I grew up in New Yawk and used to be a full-blooded New Yawker. During my many years here, my blood has thinned in the New England air and I have lost my city filters. I can’t do the city for more than a few hours these days. Too many people; too much of too much for my tastes.
But I haven’t lost my appreciation for the city game. A dumpster exists. It’s there. The garbage exists. I have no idea what one of those Mercedes’ SUVs goes for but I’m assuming if you’ve got one, you can afford to rent your own dumpster. It’s also possible to put the garbage in the trunk and take it back to the city. But why?
I think New Englanders look for the best in people. Even if they can’t actually pull it off sometimes, they were taught about humility and modesty and caring about their neighbors. They are like lambs waiting to be slaughtered.
Like waiting patiently on line and taking your turn at Guido’s. New Yawkers don’t believe in lines. Lines are like traffic. A New Yawker wouldn’t think twice about swinging his car into the three inches of empty space between your car and another on the West Side Highway going sixty-five miles an hour. The worse that can happen is you’ll swerve to your death. According to the city game, if you’re not willing to die, you shouldn’t be on the West Side Highway to begin with.
So do you really think it’s reasonable to expect that one of these guys won’t pretend he got to meat counter before you?
That’s just about steak. Can you imagine when we’re talking about real estate? When the money really matters. And with just a little unrelenting pressure and several re-negotiations later, you can get the cutesy farmhouse for ten thousand less.
New Englanders sometimes make the mistake of imagining this is about Jews when it’s really about the city. An Italian, the Irish, the Wasps– they’re all just being New Yawkers. Have you ever tried to ride the subway? Have you ever tried to hail a cab? These are Olympic sports. Nice guys don’t finish. You can politely stand at the 59th Street station and patiently wait for the folks to exit and the women and elderly to enter, and you’ll be there all day waiting for an empty train.
New Yawkers know you can’t win a war without spilling a little blood. And you can’t ride the subway without some sharp elbows. And that, above all, it’s not personal. If they run you over, steal your seat, or get to the prosciutto before you, well, they’d do it to their next-door neighbor.
New Yawkers and New Englanders remind me of Republicans and Democrats. They’re playing the game of life with different rules. It’s like the New York Yankees. They’ll do anything and everything to win. Fans of Kansas City or Toronto and even Boston will talk about how it’s not fair that the Yankees spend so much more than everyone else. That they routinely buy the World Series. Thinking that the Yankees or Yankee fans would even spend a moment thinking about fairness. Like that matters somehow.
And that’s what I mean about the lambs being led to the slaughter.
Save your cards and letters. Mickey Friedman knows that there are New Yawkers who care about other people and will wait patiently on line. He just wants more of them to visit. And, he wants you to know that this is not personal.
Thursday, February 11, 2010 © Mickey Friedman – All Rights Reserved