NYC: Hurry Up and Wait… and Like It!

I’m not too sure why people say that New Yorkers are among the most impatient and rude people in the world. I know that mine is just an outsider’s view, but to this outsider, being a New Yorker seems as though it would be a constant exercise in patience.

Immediately upon our arrival to NYC at the Staten Island Ferry—which would carry us swiftly across the New York harbor, depositing us at the southern tip of Manhattan—we waited.

First we waited to board, then we waited to de-board, next we waited in line to purchase unlimited subway passes and then we waited on the platform for the train that would take us to our hotel. We waited to board the subway, to get off the subway, to walk up the stairs to street level… and of course we waited for our turn to cross lest we be run down by a cab, bus or bicycle messenger on a mission.

Welcome to New York City. Home to over 18 million people in the metropolitan area — it is an overwhelming, endless rush of humanity. And believe me everyone is rushing somewhere, everywhere, all the time. Hence, the “hurry up” part. Hurry up to get a place in line. Because this tidal wave of beings can only move as fast as transit and commerce will allow. Transit and commerce (I might add) that are also operated by and reliant upon other human beings. Thus, the “wait” part.

I quickly learned why Lee, my fearless-and-informed tour guide, told me to quote: “… travel light and wear comfortable shoes.” By the time our visit to the Big Apple concluded we had waited in line(s) not only for constant transport around the city, but for coffee, bagels, hot dogs, beer, pizza, pastrami and pickles. We waited in line for events, for elevators, for escalators, for public attractions, for bathrooms, for boats, for shopping, for a cashier, for a good view, for a good picture and even for a bench to sit on and rest from all the waiting.

Perhaps the “impatient” brand that has been seared upon New Yorkers only comes into play when they are, say… forced to deal with thousands of versions of some clueless tourist (like myself) on a daily basis who may or may not know the exact and proper ordering procedure for a pastrami on rye. For they are not afraid to show you their displeasure with your non-new-yorker ignorance.

I can’t blame them. That’s just the way it is. Therefore, you’d better like it. Take your $20 deli sandwich, your $7 slice, your $5 dog or your $12 cocktail and drag your bumbling-photograph-taking-aimlessly-wandering-map-studying @$$ and get out of the way. Quickly. After all… someone else is waiting.

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Stormy Seas

“Calm seas don’t make good sailors.”

I read that once on a sign that I used to pass everyday on my way to work. I took a second to absorb it and then nodded my head in agreement that it is not the good times or the quiet times or the all-is-right-with-the-world times that make us who we are. It is the tough times that ultimately develop and define us.

That concept doesn’t exactly leave one with a “warm fuzzy” feeling. It kind of stinks to know that in order to be a better person, I am going to have to face difficulties and trials. But it is so true. And my not liking it won’t make it any LESS true.

So after I’m done lying down crying, kicking, screaming, yelling and feeling sorry for myself about how NOT FAIR (insert name of said trial or tribulation here) is… I usually pick myself up, dust myself off, and try to move forward while considering what valuable lesson can be gleaned from the unfortunate circumstance.

But sometimes it isn’t always that easy to just “learn our lesson” and move on. Some things are going to be SO big, so earth-shattering, so knock-you-on-your-ass devastating that it isn’t possible to simply alter our behavior, adjust our attitude or modify our thinking.

I have learned that sometimes we will have to sit in the dark while the storm rages all around us, knocking things down and forever changing the landscape of our lives. Sometimes we will have to cling to whatever vestiges of peace we can find when the sky overhead cracks open and the rain falls and thunder rattles our very foundation. Sometimes there isn’t going to be an easy way out. Sometimes we will just have to WAIT it out.

And that waiting can be the hardest part.

But I guess in those times—in those waiting periods—we can take heart that something IS happening! We are silently changing, growing and being refined. We become acquaintances of Sorrow. We have developed relationships with Patience, Perseverance and Stillness. So when the winds cease, the waters calm and the sun shines down on us again, no matter how long we remain in the center of that storm… we will be forever changed… for the better.

And when we open our eyes, we will find that we are not empty-handed. Rather, our arms have been filled with tools. Tools that will help us build a shelter for our friend when it is their turn to ride out the storm.