Friday, December 17, 2004

people really do care here

"Sir, do you have fifty cents?" "Yes I do, thanks for your concern." I was in too much of a rush to turn around to catch her expression, but I imagine that she was smiling warmly, knowing that I was at least one fourth of the way to being able to afford a coffee at Starbucks.

That's the great thing about New York... everyone cares. I've lived in many other places, and all of them have your friendly people, but they're just interested in maybe being your friend; here, people are actually concerned about your welfare. What a refreshing change.

I must have at least twenty brochures or flyers offered to me every day. These people are going to a great effort to make sure that I get the products that I need. It's not like there's a damn store that sells the same thing about ten feet in any direction... this particular product is special, and even better, it's being offered at a special price. Honestly, I would probably never have known about the said product's special price if this person hadn't gone out of his way to let me know. Some people say that there are angels disguised as humans among us... I wonder if........

A couple months ago, I was checking out the area around the apartment I was living in at the time, and happened upon a small Chinese shop. They had bags full of fresh tea leaves, so I was trying to commit their products and prices to memory... you never know if you're actually going to have a teapot in the future. "You know, we do acupuncture for only thirty dollars, and there is an open slot now." "No thanks, I'm just checking out your teas. I'll remember that you do that though." "If you get acupuncture now, it will only cost you twenty dollars." "It's okay... just looking at your tea selection." Although I couldn't manage to memorize their teas with this lady blabbing in my ear about oils, footbaths, the whores in the basement, or the secret opium room through the trapdoor behind the counter, her concern was touching. She didn't know if I was secretly into the booming opium scene, but she made the effort anyways.

I work in a skyscraper, filled with cubicles and offices, but there is a cafeteria on the fifth floor. They don't serve food, but it's a safe-haven for employees to get away from the hustle and bustle of work, without having to associate with the poorly dressed people outside. I'm still working on refining my lunch routine, but right now, I grab something nearby and bring it over to our sacred space, grab a table by myself, eat, think, and write. Conveniently, my company rents out a part of that room to vendors. I'm sure they're benefited by the fact that they can guarantee a certain percentage of their workforce, who have full-time, salaried wages, to be in that room for forty minutes or more... this would allow them to charge a nice, standard fee from any vendor to come by, but I like to think that they're doing this for my benefit. Who knows, I'm trying to get away from all the public shops and noisy restaurants so that I can appropriately recover from half a day's work, but who's to say that I wouldn't want to hear a salesman in the background bragging about an umbrella that opens and closes at the push of a button. I might want or need such an umbrella, and now, I don't have to break my routine to buy one.

Historians and sages have always marveled over the unexpected effects of capitalism. One would expect a competitive culture, where everything is weighed in terms of its monetary value, to create selfish people, but for some reason, it does just the opposite. The next time that someone asks me if I have fifty cents, I'm going to really make her feel good and say, "Honey, I have thousands of dollars."