Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lost in NY

The city is going to put navigational decals on busy subway exits so that you know which way you are going. And it's not only for the tourists. Many New Yorkers are sometimes disoriented when exiting a subway station, including moi. You need to know the direction of the traffic flow, or gape into the next street sign to see if your are facing north or south, east or west. You need to search for a landmark. Twin Towers used to be one, now they're gone. In Midtown, I use the Chrysler or the PanAm building or the Citicorp building.
So I think it's somewhat cool to put these on the sidewalk. Although, on the other hand, do we want New York to be so easy? Are we in danger of totally losing our edge and becoming like Bloomington, Indiana?
Part of the challenge is to figure it out. I am most proud when someone asks me. I am most proud, after 15 years here, when I know exactly what's where.
Usually it is non-tourists who ask as, they are less intimidated. Tourists rarely ask. They stand in the middle of the corner and parse their maps as if they were deciphering the Rosetta Stone.
I had this exchange with some tourists the other day. They are standing on Wooster and Prince and want to know how to go to Times Square.
Walk east towards Broadway 3 blocks and get on the N, R, W going uptown.
But West Broadway is to my left.
Yes, but that's West Broadway, not Broadway. They are two different streets not really near one another. The N,R goes straight to Times Square.
But, what about the 1 and 9?
Listen to me, you fucking putz, just so you know, we also have East Broadway, and that is in Chinatown. And there is another Broadway in Williamsburg. So shut the fuck up and do as I say.
(Something like that, but much more nicely.) I am very nice to tourists. I truly am. My dream is to help them all out figure out their maps and make them feel at home in NY, and think that we New Yorkers are really nice, helpful people, but we're not pushovers.

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