Transit Strike Fallout
As you know, dear readers, I live in NYC, so you might imagine that I, along with several million other New Yorkers, have been impacted by the public transit strike. But throughout the night, I was in denial that this strike would actually occur; after all, I could still hear the elevated trains roaring through the darkness as late as two in the morning. Early this morning, I awoke to an ominous silence, a stillness that was formally confirmed when the awful truth was announced on the radio; transit strike! I briefly thought about investing the day in restoring order to my neglected apartment while teaching my birds to say a few foul words. But, being the wanderer that I am, that thought was too much to bear. Instead, I decided that I had to get out, even if I did have to walk eight million miles each way in the freezing weather to get to my destination.
So I set out, realizing -- too late -- that I was underdressed for the cold. After surviving two bouts of pneumonia, you'd think I would have learned my lesson by now. My numb toes and fingers finally made me brave enough to poke one blue thumb out of my tightly clenched fist into the frigid air in the typical hitchhiker's pose. Surprisingly, within just a few minutes, a van stopped and I began a grand, serendipitous adventure after climbing into the back seat, warm air enveloping me.
And so it was that I met Rodney, the manager for a men's formal wear store in Chelsea. Rodney is Peruvian, but was born in NYC and lives in the Bronx. Due to Rodney's generosity (and also because he needed at least three people in his vehicle to pass the police check points to enter the business district), I also met a Russian immigrant, Ellie, and a Dominican beautician, Pat.
For more than an hour, we snailed through the tremendous crush of traffic, our progress and spirits buoyed as we shared stories and gifts along the way. We grumbled about huge delivery trucks clogging the streets, and complained about taxi drivers who refused to bring us to the business district or who were only too happy to charge us twice the set rate to do so. We laughed together when we noticed that the snowy-haired policeman sitting in his car at the westside highway entrance ramp was asleep. We swapped contact information so we could find each other tonight, and again tomorrow, for our return.
This one vehicle's cargo reflected the face of NYC and all that makes America great; each of us different, separate, yet the same; a black woman, a brown man, and two white women; almost all of us bilingual; two of us immigrants, one, a transplanted New Yorker and one, a native New Yorker, brought together by circumstance.
This one vehicle blended smoothly into the masses as it carried us all into the raucous, chaotic, glowing heart of the city.
© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist