Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A random walk down 42nd Street

It's always been a wonder to me how cultures intermingle in the streets of New York City. I'm here on business, an overnight trip of curious dimensions (I got a "free" hotel night at the Hilton for agreeing not to stay somewhere, which was a blessing and curse all the same), noticing the rhythm of the city again.

Starting on 42nd Street at 2nd Avenue, it was a British invasion. Specifically, two gentlemen boarded the elevator on the 16th and 11th floors, both British, and both with a Pfizer business card affixed to their briefcase or roller bag. Of course, it made sense, as I walked out of the hotel - Pfizer's world headquarters was across the street, which likely prompted some sort of meetings or working sessions and the trip stateside.

As I walked across Lexington Avenue, I started to perspire; another heat wave has descended upon the city, which is meant to only get worse, and I realized that it would create a furnace affect on my trip through the subway later that day. So, I did what any savvy New Yorker would do - I tucked in to the Grand Central Market, which was bound to be cool, with the keeping of the luscious produce and seafood selection that locals in the neighborhood use as their secret grocer.

It turns out that the Spanish are in town, seemingly Madrid-based by their accent and attire, and they were out in full force - at least according to the displays at the Grand Central Market. It could have been a tour bus that dropped them for the station tour or just coincidental timing, but three decent-sized groups walked in their promenade-style best, lilting their local tongue to mix with the butchers and fish mongers that peopled the booths.

By the time I reached the other side, I was in the main concourse and looking for the quickest path to the escalators up into the Met Life Building; it can be a "full pads" moment to confront the commuters who barrage the station from northern points from the city (Westchester County in New York state, Connecticut, and points even further afield). Luckily, I must have just missed either side of the rolling thunder of trains that can vomit hundreds of people into the concourse, who then organize chaotically into subway cars, taxicabs, and thoroughfare buses. I did catch the Connecticut rich kid "vagrants" who seemed to be sitting by one of the tracks, waiting to hitch a train back home after a presumably bacchanalian night in the city.

By this time, I was up the escalators and into the Met Life Building, almost at the end of my trip. Avoiding the final temptations of freshly made pastries that capture the air at this point, I was out the doors and over to the office.

A random walk down 42nd street took me past suburban kids, Spaniards, British, and so much more than I could not recount in this quick account - an easy reminder of the wonders that this city holds.
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