Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bigger, Better, Faster

I am working as a receptionist in the Registrar's office at LIM College (The College for the Business of Fashion ) for the next few weeks on 5th Ave near Bryant Park.

The lobby is under construction.
Every day there is something new to greet me at 8 am when I walk in the temporary side door; the floor has been ripped up, new sheetrock on the walls, ceiling painting, light fixture replacement. Today: new elevator doors. I had to duck out of the way to dodge the new scaffolding as workers removed one of the old elevator doors and negotiated though the narrow space. I somehow managed to avoid injury before gliding into the still functioning elevator waiting to take me to the 7th floor.

I flashed a grateful smile at the doorman who held this elevator door for me and tried to make a joke about the craziness when two women came up behind me from the street and encountered the same "under construction" situation that I had just survived. My attempted joke died on my lips as the women began to screech:

"I can't deal with this insanity so early in the morning!"

"It seems like the whole world is under construction!"

"Why can't they just leave things the way they were? I LIKED things the way they were!"

"They do it to challenge you. Everything has to be bigger, better, faster. It never ends!"

Usually I would agree with them. I have always been adverse to change that I have no control over. But I'm not a native New Yorker and I've only been at this office for two weeks so all I could see in that moment were two rude, crabby old ladies who hadn't had their morning yet and who were making us all (me, the doorman, the construction workers, the people who did NOT join us in the elevator) miserable. As the door closed and my steel prison began to rise, I tried to keep my face sweet and composed as the looked to me for agreement in their continued, complaining conversation. I just smiled and didn't respond. I was thinking about the men downstairs that must have to hear comments like that hundreds of times a day.

Needless to say, the incident bothered me and all three of us exited the elevator annoyed but for vastly different reasons.

In the past year that I have lived in New York City, I have encountered a wide range of people on the street, in the subway, shopping, walking, driving, sitting, behind counters, behind desks . . . riding on elevators. The people of NYC are a curious species and one that I never tire of observing. These women, who grated on my nerves so early on a Wednesday morning, are not exception.

I got a good look at them in the elevator as I rode in silence:

The first was tall with a thick, sagging neck of sun damaged skin and tightly curled and managed hair hanging limply like dozens of empty garden snake skins to her wide shoulders. She had a small, piggy nose that made her face resemble a mouse or a Who from Dr. Seuss's Whoville and small, beady eyes.

The second and far more positive (if you can accept my bias observations at this point) had three spiral curls gelled to the right side of her forehead and the rest slicked back and pulled into a tight, low bun or ponytail. Her slightly pointed nose and yellow horse like teeth sat in no nonsense face just as sun damaged as her friend's. She routed through her purse while she spoke like a pig digging for truffles.

No comments: