It’s pretty remarkable these days how many people are tuned in and zoned out and listening to, or looking at, their phones. I was on the subway recently and counted 6 out of the 8 people on the seats opposite who were looking at, or listening to, their phones. Of the remaining two, one was asleep. The other was reading the print edition of The New York Times. Quaint.
It’s especially interesting on the city’s streets to see how many people are plugged into their phones, seemingly oblivious to the city around them. I’m actually amazed when they seem to magically get out of the way just in the nick of time to avoid walking into someone or something. It’s an instinct that smart phone users seem to share with the city’s pigeons. Fortunately, nobody I know has ever stepped on a pigeon yet.
You can’t make this up.
As I was riding the M104 bus yesterday afternoon going north from W. 88th and Broadway, a man got on at 91st Street lugging a pink polka dot suitcase. He found one of the coveted single seats and heaved his large frame into it. As soon as he was settled, he started ranting in a very loud voice about how Trader Joe’s was to be commended for not inflating the cost of flowers yesterday for Valentine’s Day. The rant went on for about 2 stops, so everyone on the bus could hear about their fair pricing when other merchants yesterday were gouging customers for prices. Satisfied that we’d all benefited from that intelligence, he opened the polka dot suitcase and pulled out a rubber chicken, which he waved around. “AND ISN’T THIS THE BEST RUBBER CHICKEN YOU’VE EVER SEEN,” he demanded to know at about 90 decibels.
I was initially sitting across from him but the rubber chicken prompted me to move back to the seat up the stairs, where he was no longer in my bubble of adjacent space. I then proceeded to look out the window and intently study the land use of Broadway.
Mercifully, I could pull the cord for my stop and get off, leaving him and the rubber chicken behind.