Wednesday, September 28, 2005

To work & back...

On the bus to work this morning...

I got on, put on my headphones, and settled in to listen to more Howard Fishman.* The bus began to fill, slowly. Two young high school girls in Catholic school uniforms sat down, one next to me, one across from me. We were in the middle section of the bus, where it can bend to go around corners.

A few minutes later, a SpongeBob SquarePants foil birthday balloon floated in front of me. I waited to see which passenger would turn around, spot it, and come back to retrieve it. No one did. The balloon settled just above my head and right in the middle of the aisle.

Each person getting on the bus brushed past it, many glancing around to see who was leaving their balloon in the way.

Finally, as the bus began to get really full, one man grabbed the balloon by the string and firmly planted it beside me. "It's not mine," I told him, not really objecting to sharing space with the balloon, but wanting to be clear in case the balloon's rightful owner was listening. I looked expectantly at the two girls. I hadn't seen them bring it onto the bus, but who else could it belong to? "I just assumed it belonged to one of these girls," I said. They shook their heads.

By this point, pretty much everyone in the middle of the bus was listening, looking around for the balloon's owner.

The man found a place to stand and a bar to hold onto, and the bus continued on its way.

No sooner had our conversation ended than I heard a voice from the front section of the bus.

"Tiffany, where's the balloon?"

"I gave it to you!"

"No, you didn't. Where's the balloon?"

"Well, I kind of threw it towards you!"

I don't think I've ever heard so many people on a bus crack up at the same time before.

*****

On the train home from school...

The train was between 42nd St. and Union Square, my stop. I began the process of packing up to get out of the crowded car. I put the paperclip back on the stack of papers I was grading, slipped them inside my agenda, opened my bag, put the pen and agenda inside the pocket, zipped it closed. Then I reached under my bag for my jacket, folded it neatly over my arm, and then picked up the handles of my purse. Finally, I picked up the backpack with my other hand, and sat up straighter, the univeral sign for, "I'm about to get off the subway, so be prepared to make room."

The woman standing up in front of me shifted to one side.

"There, I've made you a little path," she said.

"Thanks."

"I just moved here a week ago, and I'm amazed by the way people in New York manage space. Everyone is constantly aware of exactly how much space they have."

"Oh, just wait until you see what people do to make space in their apartments," I said.

The woman sitting next to me chimed in, "You give away your children's clothes the second they grow out of them. I mean, that very minute."

Pretty soon about 5 of us were chatting away about where to buy random space-saving implements, how to fit all your clothes in your closet, and the like.

And they say New Yorkers aren't friendly!

*Yes, I'm obsessed. But it's really good music, and I finally own a CD!

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