Crazy, "psychic" lady on the subway who sat with me and Erica for a solid hour explaining that there was a strong aura about me and she didn't know whether to laugh or cry. She was carrying a one dollar bill and an old wrinkled pamphlet about Elvis. She then went on talking a mile a minute connecting the numbers of the train to Elvis' time of death, September 11th, Michael Jackson, and Erica's Grandmama....SKETCHY! I guess it didn't help that I egged her on and kept her going. After promising her that we'd see the movie "The Knowing" with Nicholas Cage, we went on our merry way.
CRAZY SCALE: 7.5 harmless but very time-consuming
I met this next crazy person waiting for my A train late at night in the terminal. I had my IPOD on minding my own business with PLENTY of people around me for the crazy man to talk to but alas, I was the chosen one. He appeared out of NOWHERE....I swear I turned my head to check the map and the next thing I know, he was right in front of me. He mumbled a lot and I heard "rock band," and "myspace." Then he pointed to his crumpled paper, mubled some more and put it in my hands. I wish you could've seen it because it was all computer codes or something with no real words on it. Here's the best part: after he was done mumbling, he bowed quickly and ran away....HA!
CRAZY SCALE: 5 quick and painless
Last on my list is an old man/drag queen shim I met on Coney Island. He was wearing a colorful ruffly dress, a full face of make-up (with his beard) and a giant parrot on his head...a real one! He only spoke Spanish and tried to dance with everyone who walked by and since it was a boardwalk, there was no other way around him. I escaped with a high five.
CRAZY SCALE: 3.8 The live bird perched on his head may bump him up to a solid 4...
I've only been in the city for a little while but man, did I learn A LOT! I keep a little notebook and write down all my lessons. Now I will share some with you...
SURVIVING THE BIG CITY
1. Being small is a blessing AND a curse.
It's great to be able to squeeze into places that others may not be able to fit. I can pretty much fit in any train, no matter how packed. I can utilize that last bit of space in the elevator. I can navigate the crowded streets with ease....BUT, when I'm sitting on the train, people are more inclined to sit next to me, as I don't spill over onto the next seat. Or, they don't see a problem pushing a shoving the little one. Or they don't see me at all...man, I miss Saipan! Here, I'm right at elbow level and that's dangerous!
2. ALWAYS pack a snack.
ALWAYS!!!!!! The amount of walking you do in this place is sickening! And the price of the food....even worse! I was in Macy's...all like 87 floors of it!...and halfway through trying to navigate my way out, and I was SO hungry. But it was rush hour and the store was packed...plus I had no idea had to get out of that monstrous store (see why being small is a curse above) ...so I settled in the shoe section and snacked away...I could've been lost for days in there....
3. Smiling draws in strangers
Holy moly did this one kick me in the butt! Do NOT smile on the subway if you are alone. Crazy people see that as an invitation and ATTACK! Keep your eyes down and frowns on. Pretending to sleep works nicely but I only recommend that for longer trips, as you may miss your stop. Safe smiling spots include: Schools, museums, churches, and other places crazy people tend to steer away from.
4. If you ARE approached, you have a few options:
-Kill them with confidence. Most of the hoot/howling guys don't REALLY want you to stop and talk to them. It catches them off guard and is somewhat entertaining.
-Become crazier than they are! Eye twitches, mumbling, frantic hands...all deadly.
-Pretend not to speak English. Note: do not do this with Spanish speaking people...that one REALLY backfires...
5. Chinatown smells like fish.
Just accept this, as you will never know where the smell comes from, why it is so potent or how it takes over an entire neighborhood. Just embrace it.
These are my NYC travel tips so far. I am SURE there will be more to come!