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culture shock

September 16, 2009

New York City is not Wilmot Flat, NH.  If I were standing next to a total stranger for half an hour in my hometown, we’d talk about the weather, our kids, their teachers, our spouses, the news of the day, and the lousy gardening this past summer.  Not in New York.  My subway car was jam packed with silent people … for half an hour.  The only verbal exchange in 30 minutes was a seated mother offering her seat to a standing pregnant woman (who declined; just one stop).  Noticing this, I wanted to strike up a conversation with someone near me, but I realized this would be … awkward.  They would be suspicious of my angle – selling something?  A con man?  And I think it would also be inappropriate.  In a way, subway time seems to be quasi-private time: people are reading, listening to music, dozing, or catching up on email.  It is this cultural norm that shocked me: inside a metal box crowded with people, each is actually alone.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2009 6:38 pm

    as a New Yorker for almost half of my life, I can safely assure you that when you live RIGHT on top of people, and people are constantly in your face (ie- I was stopped 8 times on the street today for someone asking me for a cigarette; and at $10/pack, that just AIN’T happenin, bubba), you tend to harbor every precious moment of solitude you can find.

    crank up the iPod, put on the sunglasses and stare at your magazine… even if you’re in a crowded subway car, it’s still a brief moment of solace.

    that said, michael b. turned me on to this project of yours and I think it’s totally cool – and had I known you were in NYC yesterday, i would have gladly paid you in cash for a t-shirt to help the cause.

    (and if you don’t mind, I’d like to spread the word about this project on a tattoo/art/music/sub-culture blog I write for – – i think our skater readers would dig it big time).

  2. 50skatekid permalink
    September 18, 2009 8:26 am

    Thanks for representing the NYC perspective with such aplomb! And thanks for your support! -Matt

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