I watched the taxi hurtle away down 7th Avenue, happy to have survived my ride in it. While passing a bus on the inside it narrowly missed a young mother pushing a baby stroller crossing at 26th Street. The taxi driver shook his fist at the startled mother and honked insanely.
Which takes two hands and perhaps explains the slight collision of the taxi with a pretzel cart, scattering dozens of the twisty snacks into the street where they were crushed under the tires of 30,000 roaring, belching, oversized American vehicles within fourteen seconds!
The pretzel man shook his fist at the taxi and cursed tremendously.
No one paid him the least attention.
“Did you see that?” asked Suzie. “Shame.”
If you know a South African then you’ll know that “shame” can mean almost anything. Shame you had a nice holiday, shame your car broke down, shame the puppy is so cute.
“See it?” I answered. “Did you hear it? That pretzel guy could really curse up a storm!”
It seemed to Suzie and I that every one of New York’s seven and a quarter million people (at the time of which I write, 1987) were here at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street.
The noise and bustle were tremendous!
Throngs of people pushed past us, going this way and that. People of every size and shape, speaking languages we’d never heard before and didn’t understand. Including American English. They were dressed differently too. Heavier. Warmer. Darker.
Many people, to our surprise, were drinking and eating in the street as they hurried along. Food wrappers and paper cups littered the sidewalks.
Men wheeled racks of clothing and fur coats up Seventh Avenue against the traffic, cursing the cars and buses which narrowly missed them on all sides.
I stood among the chaos and looked around… it was pandemonium!
“LOOK OUT!” cried Suzie, pulling me back from the curb.
“Yikes!” I yelled as three busses, 28 taxis and eight bicycles almost ran me over.
“I think you got a little too close to the road,” said Suzie.
“Yeah and the blasted traffic is going the wrong direction too!” I laughed. “So I didn’t see ‘em coming!”
“Excuse me, Suzie,” I added, then I turned and shook my fist at the murderous traffic while I cursed up a storm.
No one paid the least attention to me.
“Boy!” I said to Suzie after the cursing, “You have to keep your eyes open around here, don’t you?”
“Just like a New Yorker,” laughed my wife. “Don’t worry, dahling. You’re doing okay. So far.”
“Did you notice no one cared that I was standing in the street shaking my fist and cursing up a storm?”
“Maybe your cursing isn’t up to scratch,” suggested Suzie.
“Never!” I insisted. I was rightfully proud of my cursing, learned at the bottom of a muddy ditch when I worked as a laborer, many years ago.
Since then I’d stayed in continual practice.
“It must be my accent,” I explained.
“You’ve got to use the f-word way more,” said Suzie, “to keep up with the locals.”
“Right!” I answered. “More f-words.”
New York! I thought.
What a f*cking town!
To be continued…