Hey, New Yorkers...

Hey, new yorkers...



Less than a week since I arrived in New York, and I have the impression that, if the city has changed, its inhabitants haven't since John Dos Passos descriptions in Manhattan Transfer.


My first meeting occurred on the train between Newark airport and New York. An old man began to chat with me about the purpose of my trip, my studies and so on, and, in a few minutes, he started to take care of me as if I were his own child. He showed me the subway I must get, offered me my first subway ticket, and as we passed one his friend, he said "I help the little girl finding her way." Obviously the "little girl" did not really need help, but he needed to discuss it with someone. After a day working, coming back home alone, he needed to talk.


This meeting was the first of a series which had stricken the little girl I am...


New York seems always be a place filled with lonely people incapable to meet each other.


It seems that there is a specific method in New York which consist in avoiding other people, in order to avoid the possibility of being, one day, disappointed.


This impression is conveying both by the attitude of the people I see everyday, and of the people I meet in the street. Everyone is polite, try to help as much as possible, apologize when they rush you, in a word: new yorkers are really kind ... as long as it is not engaging their feelings. They can share a smile with everyone around the world but what about sharing a few minutes chattingwith another New Yorker?


This conveys an impressive thing for somebody, like me who grow up in a little town before living in a city where it is admitted that everyone hates everyone by advance and by principle (yes, I am french, and I live in Lyon): New Yorkers have a fantastic potential for kindness which is not used enough ... 


And so I met lots of lost people, who come, in the street, or in the subway to chat with me after a few smiles exchanged and using the pretext of a match or something else. Each time, they make me speak about myself, in order to speak about themselves. They speak about their job, their dreams and especially about their families: children, grandchildren, nephews, each time I get an exhaustive list of the people they love (even if this word is never pronounced) and each time I get few precisions about where their relatives are living (often in New York) and the frequency of their meetings with them (it's simple: this is NEVER ... ).


Those people always warned me against dangerous people  that you can meet in the street, without being aware that they are surely classified in those dangerous or weird people by lots of the new yorkers.


Nevertheless,  New York City knows what solidarity means, as was proved in period such as after 9/11. Communities are able to merge, but in daily life, how many individuals do not feel listened to and supported?


Why are communities divided according to areas, the clothing, the way you express yourself?


The paradox of New York City is this attitude continuously fluctuating between totally engaging in a community and an extreme individualism expressed when the question is a relationship between two individuals.


This lack of confidence in others is amazing in a city where there are so much communities represented. The diversity of New York is clearly your richness. If you manage to live one next to another, why shouldn't you try living together? And if you manage to engage yourself in a community, why shouldn't you try to engage yourself in more personal relationships?


What about trying today, at smile to somebody you doesn't know in the subway, or in a park?




So, new yorkers, what about trying to exchange maybe less of courtesies and more of yourself?