Be nice you’re in…
I was riding the subway today, it was rush hour and the L-train was like one giant game of Sardines.
In New York City it’s important to ignore people, you definitely do not want to make eye contact with the wrong person but, the guy sitting next let his knee trail over to my thigh, I had to glare at him before turning quickly away. My eye’s met a blank stare, like he had no idea. He was wearing a beige pea coat, not the kind you can find at a vintage store but, the kind you have to buy new. I turned only to hit my knee on another guy wearing a black coat and a neon beanie, he smelled like sweat. I held my nose and accepted my fate, I only had one more stop. I stared at everyone’s feet on the train and waited.
I had this thought, is everyone ignoring everyone to work together?
Riding the L-Train during rush hour is not a pleasant experience and I can’t imagine giving a Bend-level-of-hospitality to everyone in that subway car. Bend is the small town in Oregon, where I grew up. For those of you who don’t know what or where Bend, Oregon is, I will try and explain.
Bend is located in Central Oregon. (It’s three hours from Portland, which you’ve probably heard of, if you’ve heard of Oregon.) In Bend you literally can’t walk down the street without someone saying, “hello.” Having grown up like that, I can’t help but be nice to people and treat them as if i’d run into them again, which a common occurrence in Bend.
Basically, I have default nice setting. I am not pushy nor assertive. I am passive, mostly pleasant and can’t help but saying,
“Hi. How are you?” with a smile and wait for a response.
This is especially true when I am working. However, I mean it when I say my level of sincerity is the same from coast to coast, it’s as deep as a cup of black coffee, couldn’t be more than twelve ounces and is probably closer to six.
In Bend, it’s not an expectation that you must say, “hello” or “good morning” to everyone that you pass but, it is an unspoken rule that is seldom broken.
Don’t be confused though, these are not words with heavy weight, most people have a similar level of sincerity to mine, shallow as a curb-side-puddle. In Oregon asking about someones day is a social norm, like it’s normal in New York City to not ask.
Across the glob people work together in different ways. In New York City, there are an intemperate amount of people to bother being nice to; In Bend there are too many you’ll run into again. Either way, what you are trying to allude by either ignoring or shouting “hello” to a stranger, is that you are a nice person, not to be bothered.
“In Brooklyn, with a population of 2,648,771, took in more people — 144,071 — to achieve the highest growth of any county in the state by absolute numbers. Its 5.75 percent jump from 2010 to 2017 was second as a percentage gain.”
How is it possible for this many people to coexist together? My thoughts are trust, honesty and tough love.
New York is a rough city to live in but, even in the most cramped subway cars, if an elderly person or a family with small kids comes through the doors, someone is giving up their seat. The streets are crowded but, mostly people are not out to get each other, they are just trying to get by, so move out of the way.
Everyone in New York City is here because they want to be, why else would you be on the subway at 5pm on a weekday?
Just a subway thought.