It started as another typical day. Woke up and went to work. Ran down the street for my usual noon lunch hour to grab a salad between 53rd and 54th on Lexington. I was waiting for the traffic signal to change; I stepped off the curb, and my BCBG ballerina flats skidded. It was that horrible feeling in a split second, and there was nothing that I could do to stop it. I was going down. I took a flip and landed on my tush, nearly killing myself. Tons of people were around watching my somewhat ungraceful spill in the middle of one of the biggest intersections in Manhattan. Great. Of course I was wearing a dress with my stylish black trench coat over top, but thankfully I had tights on.
My legs flew up, my arms were flailing, and I was mortified in an instant. I am not sure how I didn’t drop my handbag and scatter the contents in the gutter. But there was something even more shocking than the actual fall. Approximately ten people rushed over to see if I was hurt. Can you imagine? This happened at 57th and Lexington at noon, one of the busiest times of the day. I was appreciative, but honestly, how embarrassing. And some of the concerned observers were male. I am not sure what it is, but no woman ever wants to look clumsy or fall in front of a man. Luckily the person closest was a female. I jumped to my feet as quickly as possible. I brushed myself off as if nothing happened (still with several strangers questioning my well being), dismissed the incident, and proceeded to strut down Lexington Avenue to pursue my Caesar salad. Unbelievably, I did not damage my outfit, or sustain an injury other than my ego. The next day I took my ballet flats to the shoe repair, and had thick rubber added to the soles. Hopefully, no more flips in my future---at least not in these shoes.
Recently, a gentleman got off the M86, but left his wallet on the bus. At least a dozen people called after him, running down into the subway station, they tried to find him. Apparently, he got to the turnstile and didn’t have his MetroCard. He sprinted back up and a young woman handed the wallet to him. He was more than grateful, and the crowd smiled with a huge sigh of relief.
A few months ago, there was a similar happening. A woman was crossing Broadway at 87th street and chatting on her phone. Meanwhile, I noticed a guy chasing her and yelling at the top of his lungs. I thought that a crime was about to happen as I watched this man frantically try to catch the woman. Instead, he found her glasses and ran several blocks to get them back to her safely. She almost cried; she was so appreciative.
I have seen circumstances like this more times than I can remember. An incident happens on the streets of NYC, and other New Yorkers rush to assist. Perhaps things have changed post 9/11, and there is real sense of community that has evolved over the past decade. Or maybe I looked like a contortionist when I fell, and those strangers couldn’t help themselves. Either way, 30 years ago, dozens of people would’ve kept walking or barely given me a second look.
Life happens fast here. The city buzzes at full speed 24/7. After commuting, walking crowded streets, and working all day, New Yorkers want peace and quiet, or perhaps a cocktail at a neighborhood pub.
Living with eight million neighbors isn't easy. But we will do whatever we can to help a stranger; our hearts are in the right place.
If you drop your wallet, there’s a good chance that you will see it again, and maybe with cash intact. Or if you wear cute shoes with slippery soles, take a flip and land on your bottom while crossing a busy intersection, New York will be there to pick you up. We may even throw in directions for free.