Monday, July 23, 2007

Rubber Boots

A voice rattled the weary silence in the Atlantic subway station. 'No! No! No! You know you can't stretch out. C'mon. C'mon. Sit up. No! No! No!' And I turned slowly, as others did, to see an MTA worker rousing a homeless man who stretched out on a bench. The woman continued, 'You know you can't stretch out. No! No! No!' She touched the man as he clutched a pillow, softly rapping on the pillow. 'You have to sit up or I'll call the police. If you don't feel well, you know how it goes. We'll call the ambulance. No! No! No! Sit up.' The man stirred. 'You know how it works. I let you in, but no stretching out.'

The man woke and slowly sat up, back hunched, matted greasy hair upright now instead of laying on the bench armrest. The woman continued talking to the man she obviously knew, a regular. I winked and nodded approvingly as the MTA worker passed me while pushing a garbage can. The D train approached and many of us turned to see the man, sitting now, and we boarded the train.

I left New Ipswich this morning around 8:30 and I arrived in Brooklyn around 3:30 PM. My brother is in town from Minneapolis and he needed a ride to Southport, CT to work for three days and it was great to have company. While we rode we discussed business, sports, and other topics. I stopped much less than I would when I drove alone and I explained it to my brother as, 'When I'm driving alone, I get tired and bored and my thoughts sort of grind to a halt. When I'm not even thinking anymore, I stop to stretch, rest, and maybe take a nap. My trips to Brooklyn take a long time.'

After I arrived at the 820 apartment, I walked to and talked with Amy, Aaron, and Jeff. Aaron tells me that searching with google for reveals my blog and apparently he read my words into the wee hours of the night. I saw the counter increment, but there's no way for me to know who my trusty readers are! (Whoever you are, thank you!)

My brother called me to say that he was boarding a Metro-North train to the City so I left, ate a snack at 820, and took the subways to meet him at Grand Central Station. When I finally arrived, he tells me that he has waited for a half hour, but he already ventured out to sight-see in the streets of New York.

We walked through an intermittent light mist to Times Square and enjoyed the well lit hustle. Eventually, we went to Roxy's Deli for the most expensive Rueben and hamburger we've ever had. (Over $25 for the Reuben and $15 for the hamburger.) The plus side is that the sandwiches were some of the best that we ever had.

Before leaving Times Square, I watched my brother dispense a bagful of red and dark blue peanut M&Ms at $9/pound. He didn't see the price, but he paid $14 for his candy with a chuckle. 'Not only did I have the most expensive Reuben in the world, I just paid for the most expensive M&Ms!'

We took the trains to the World Trade Center site and persistently circled the site until we had a good vantage point. Surprisingly, I felt emotional as I recalled being at the site a few weeks after 9/11. My friend was there less than a week afterwards and he has several stark, gripping photos before the authorities secured the site.

I pointed out the street that I tried to approach before being turned back by men with automatic weapons. In any event, I felt emotion course through me as I remembered steel piercing nearby buildings, windows blown out, and soot and ash containing the remains of our country men and women covering adjoining buildings. And the very sidewalk where we stood stopped desperate people as they plunged from the towers in a last irrational gasp of hope to their death. Memories of the sounds from the 9/11 documentary rang faintly in my ears while I stood there imagining them land.

Afterwards, we walked Wall street, past NYSE, and to my local ATM where I withdrew cash and saved fee money (up to $7.50 now). We closed our trip by walking to the Staten Island ferry station and I encouraged my brother to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty which he did.

I rode the 5 express to Grand Central with my brother, we made arrangements for me to pick him up on Thursday, and then I took the 5 and then 4 express to Atlantic where the MTA worker roused the homeless sleeper.

It was good to have my brother here. Despite the thrilling hustle of New York, I'm still lonely for others from my church and family.

I'll close for the night with two items a practical one and a curiosity. I have to move my car by 6:00 AM tomorrow so workers can resurface the street in front of 820. So I'll be up early to move my car to and probably walk back until people arrive there between 8:00 and 9:00 AM.

And the curious trend of women in skirts and colorful rubber boots. Stunning, svelte women walked briskly through the subway stations and streets of Manhattan wearing all colors of rubber boots. Pink. Brown plaid. Black. Blue. Green. Yellow. And as they walked, the boot uppers flexed and skirts touched or covered the tops of many boots. As a counter point, many other women wore flips or flat sandals that are unaffected by rain and puddles.

But the curious boots make me remember popular press about women wearing athletic sneakers as business attire in the streets of New York, but I marvel at the $8 boot phenomenon.

Seeing boots led to sarcasm-rich commentary about the price of $8 rubber boots going for $100 or more in Manhattan. Location. Location. Location.

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