I’m still fascinated by New York. Every street that I walk down, and it may be for the 100th time, still opens up something a new to me.
Penn Station is one example. I’ve traversed almost every nook and cranny of the 34th Street location, and every time I do it, I find something that makes me stop and stare.
I was going to take the 7:11 p.m. train back to Dover, the bus dropped me off at Penn at about 6:40. So I took the Long Island railroad side of the station. It would make my walk to the train and through the crowds longer, but I wasn’t exactly pressed for time.
Right below the foreboding “NO VENDORS, FINE+ 2 POINTS” sign, stood a vendor with an array of books colorful and vulgarly glossy, as the last of day light danced off it.
There was “My First Spanish Dictionary”(with over 700 images and new words) and “Mathematics pour les enfant” and others stacked so close that looking at it for more than a few seconds made everything blur into large Sesame Street-esque words.
A woman beside me, arguing about a $3 book on birds shook me out of my daze. As I turned around to continue towards my destination in the throng I almost fell over a pink stroller that stood parked firmly, almost in the middle of the pavement. I finally regained my balance and looked over at the contents of the stroller to see a little blonde haired boy in it. He looked about 4 years old, a little large and a little too male for the Barbie stroller that he was strapped in.
I looked around, he didn’t seem to be a matter of concern to anyone there and I felt a twinge of worry. A lost baby, that would be a tough one to explain when you went home to dinner.(“OK, let me retrace my steps, I was at the mall and then…..Oh! I must have left him outside Macy’s, I’ll call them to see if they found anything.”) I stood there watching him and he seemed to be just fine. All the energy and attention in his little baby body was directed to a large lollypop, licking it furiously in between suspicious glances at it. In New York, even a 4 year old knows that nothing can be trusted. And the stream of people walking in and out of the station, parted just behind him, and without missing a beat, continued. Nobody thought that a little boy in an unattended Barbie stroller parked in the middle of the street was even slightly strange. And it was like Madonna’s “Ray of Light” video, but here, it was a baby boy in a stroller that remained in focus while everything around him became a fast moving blur.
So for what seemed like a while, I stood by the stroller, and looked around for anyone that looked like they might have lost a child. No one. By this time, the boy, bored with being suspicious with the lollypop, turned his vary eye towards me. In New York, even a 4 year old knows that no one has good intentions. It was 7:05 p.m., and I made some quick calculations.
If I was to report him missing, it would take them at least an hour to get here, so the next train I could take out was at about 9:00 p.m. Or will they ask me to go with them? Will I be able to take the train back today? I will miss Christa’s surprise Birthday party. It does not matter, as long as we can find his parents. This must be awful. I wonder who I should……
I once again, almost fell over the pink Barbie stroller when it veered straight into me. The woman with the slick ponytail who had been arguing about the $3 book on birds shot me a filthy look as she took the handle bars of the stroller and joined into the stream of people that were walking down the foot path. She muttered something in Spanish, took out a water bottle from her purse and handed it to the boy who took it with a smile that was definitely directed at what was my “blinking idiot” face.
“Excuse me, are you all right?” she asked, not really wanting an answer.
“Yes” I recovered. “He is very cute”, this to try to explain why I had been (what seemed like) skulking around his stroller for the past thirty minutes.
She had already left, taking the stroller and her son. I stood there, still blinking. I missed the 7:11 train, so I had to wait till 8:40 for the next one. I missed Christa’s Surprise Birthday party. In New York, it is silly to have good intentions.