Black Friday, Gratitude and the Gray Rat


For Thanksgiving, we all try to focus on things for which we’re grateful.  For me, they include having a wonderful family and being able to see them regularly.  It also includes being able to live a reasonably full life doing the things I enjoy.

I read recently that taking note of your gratitude is something of a life preserver.  The article recommended that we all keep ‘gratitude journals’ and record daily entries of things for which we’re grateful.  I decided I would at least make mental note of them, since I didn’t think I would actually keep up a notebook.

Like the rest of the planet, I thought I’d get into the spirit of Black Friday by starting my holiday shopping.  It was a pretty chilly but sunny afternoon in New York City and walking down Broadway definitely put me in the holiday spirit with lots of sale signs and people.  It was enough to inspire my first mental note of gratitude.

However, the formulation of my gratitude list was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a big, gray rat racing across my path a few feet ahead of me.  I yelled, “YIKES”, but it wasn’t enough to wake the man sleeping on a bench right where the rat was headed.  I thought of waking him but then thought better of it and didn’t. In NYC, you don’t wake up people sleeping on benches.

So that was my first daily gratitude experience.  But apart from the trauma of the rat getting so close, I’m at least grateful that he didn’t run over my feet.

“Would you like a seat?”


Every once in a while, someone offers me a seat on the subway as I stand hovering over him.  I always say, “Thanks so much” and immediately sit down as soon as the good samaritan vacates the coveted space.  However, if I had a nickel for every friend who has admitted to being thrown into an existential crisis by the offer, I’d have several nickels.

It seems that in some people’s thinking, being offered a seat by a younger person is tantamount to looking old, even if you haven’t self-identified as an elderly person.  One friend said that she got on a subway one day when she thought she looked “pretty good”, was offered a seat and promptly felt miserable and insulted. She declined the offer. I told her she was pretty crazy to do that but apparently her self-image and self-esteem had been dealt a blow.

I suppose we all have our flash points. I was insulted this afternoon when I gave a dollar to a middle-aged subway musician who had lugged a keyboard aboard the #1 train and asked for money after he played.  As I handed him the dollar he said, “Thanks, grandma.” Now, I happen to be a grandmother and am delighted when my grandchildren, all 5 and under, call me “Grammy”.  But I didn’t feel old enough to be this middle-aged guy’s grandmother.  I was going to ask for my dollar back.




Those Subway Stairs!


The stairs in NYC subway stations are an interesting athletic challenge, especially if you’re pregnant or, shall we say, of a certain age.

Not everyone is challenged.  There are 80 and, I believe, 90 year olds still running in the NYC Marathon.  For the rest of us mortals, the stairs, which can be extremely narrow in some stations, require that we keep up the pace, especially if behind us are subway riders with either better lung capacity or more flexible knee joints, who can ascend more quickly.  The problem is particularly acute during rush hours, when impatience to get to an office on time or meet a date for dinner is palpable.

So my advice to my Wrinkles friends who might find this a problem: avoid rush hours, subway stations with narrow stairways (the 72nd Street westside IRT has stairways that are one lane only!) or intensify your aerobic workouts to better keep up with the crowd.