Friday, July 27, 2007

A missed opportunity?

When I received the New Yorker earlier this week, the first thought that popped into my head when I saw the cover was "Did these three women miss an opportunity to learn something about each other?" It looks like they are on a New York City subway, staring straight ahead, lips pursed. Well, at least two of three women have pursed lips; perhaps the woman in the hijab is smilling.

Maybe I, as a resident of a small town in northern California, am clueless about the rules regarding talking on the subway. However, if curiosity doesn't trump rules, how are ever going to learn to get along?


Claire Joy said...

Actually... the unspoken rule of no eye-contact for life in New York City in general, (not just subways, but especially there) has more to do with giving space and privacy in an environment where there is no space and privacy. Odd, for those of us who are not native-born New Yorkers, but effective, nontheless.

Gail Jonas said...

Thanks for this comment, Claire Joy. It makes sense.

When I went to NYC in June of last year, I was amazed at how friendly everyone was. I got into quite a conversation with a NYC parks employee, who gave me a T-shirt from a recent Harley ride to raise funds for breast cancer and was helped out several times when I was confused with the subway or when I couldn't find my way.

Having been raised in the Seattle area where we look everyone in the eye, I suppose my habit of doing that was disconcerting to NYC residents, nd they responded to be cordially rather than giving me the cold shoulder.

Jeff Strahl said...

My family moved to New York when i was 11, we quickly learned to not look anyone in the eye on the subway, and that answering anyone who talked to you would usually lead to being hustled. Years later, my late teens-early 20s, i had many experiences of being on a rushhour train packed to the gills, people were used to ignoring the ones they were squeezed against in the heat and humidity of mid-summer. Overcrowding does something to us, our instincts tell us something is very wrong. That's a big reason i got out as soon as i could.