New York - so much noise they named it twice
In this week’s New York Times Sunday magazine, there’s a wonderful feature on the sounds of the world. You can log in to hear the earth cracking in Atacama Desert, Iceland’s Dettifoss waterfall, wind in the aspens….
New York also produces its own range of sounds, most of them LOUD. NYC is noisy. Very noisy. And, sometimes that makes it hard to hear what’s being said. You have to identify one instrument from the urban symphony going on around you.
There are sirens, everywhere and all the time, but I’ve yet to see a body, a gurney or someone leaning over a body on the ground, yelling “Charging to 360” or whatever it is they say.
Some of the ambulance sirens start several blocks away and they’re deafening by the time they pass. Rarely, do they speed. It’s just the damned siren. There’s the whop-whop-whop version and one that mimics the sound of a two-year-old playing with a fire truck. This does not instil confidence.
There’s the car horn, now used to urge the driver ahead to get around the corner, to alert pedestrians they’re about to the mown down, or to simply suggest that yoranidiotgetoutamyway!
In the subway, it’s the noise of the trains and those muffled announcements I’ve come to love:
I imagine some people new to the city have ended up in Far Rockaway and never found their way back.
As you’ll know from past emails, I also have some difficulty with the local language.
Which way do you insert your card when entering the bus?
If you insist. Ah, I see, it goes that way up. Thank-you.
At Mood Fabrics (of Project Runway fame), an older woman fingers chiffon and talks over her shoulder to a similar older woman behind.
Older woman #1: She should worry. It’s not her wedding.
It’s a classic from any movie or film featuring a stereotypical older Jewish woman.
And then there are the street conversations. Two construction guys:
Guy 1: It sucks.
Guy 2: No, it don’t.
Guy 1: It sucks.
Guy 2: Ijustolyoo – it doesn’t. And that’s the end of it.
Guy 1: Still sucks.
I booked a bus trip to Storm King, a sculpture park about 90 mins north. Don’t worry if you can’t print out your booking email, just bring your phone with you, said the confirmation email. Guess they forgot to tell the woman at the ticket counter. No eye contact. That’s the first giveaway.
Me: I have a booking—
Me: I’m sorry, I-
Me: I had no way of printing it out, but your email said-
Me: I’m sorry?
She points at a pick notice on the window.
Her: SJFLFM##G#!!!!CNZKJJFHK !!!!!
Me: Oh, I have to send this email to you? Ok.
She slams the ticket down in front of me.
One of the few rude people I’ve struck here. Actually, she was the first of three that day, all from the coach line and all well out of order. It was like being back in NZ.
There are some very loud people on the street. One youngish man, unkempt and sloppily dressed, speed-walked past me, yelling into his phone:
You’re a liar….. YOU’RE A LIAR. YR A F******* LIAR. YOU’RE A LIAR. YOU’RE A LIAR. YOU’RE A F****** LIAR.
The best one was in line at the bank where I was changing $100 bills down to something smaller.
Guy: No, I don’t have any ID
Teller: I can’t help you without ID, sir
Guy: Well, could we call someone?
Teller: Call who, sir?
Guy: My other bank?
I also loved the woman who said she would have a salad because she was dieting.
Woman: Can you put double mayo on that?
She then filled an enormous paper cup with Coke.
BUT…..But, amid all these sounds, there’ are the musicians who can ease your journey through the endless tunnels of the subway and noisy streets.