New York, New York, everybody’s dream. I hear this from people on the streets, in restaurants, in the workplaces I visit. People from countries all over the globe still flock to New York, and no matter if they end up working in the city yet living in the outer boroughs, all cling to Manhattan as the epicenter of their collective existence.
Why? Just what is the attraction of Manhattan? Well, the energy level is palpable for starters. Put that many people on the streets and something has to happen! It’s easy to spot the out-of-towners. They are the slow walkers, who stop when they speak, who look up at the skyscrapers. They don’t spit words out sideways as they half-walk-half-run along the sidewalk. They don’t pivot on the street corners impatiently taking whichever “Walk” signal happens to flash. They don’t weave in an out of the confusing mass of human traffic with that ease and flexibility that comes with actually living in Manhattan.
So here we all are, struggling to survive in every imaginable way. Jobs are hard to come by these days, so even though rents are falling, it’s still tough to get by in Manhattan. Not that long ago, I came to Manhattan – flew in on a Sunday, went on a few interviews the next morning, and had a firm job offer by early afternoon. That’s no longer the case – recruiters tell me that not only are employers not hiring, the agencies themselves are struggling to stay in business. Several have closed their doors in recent months.
The Museum itself was an interesting experience. I hadn’t visited in years, and took the opportunity when an out-of-town friend expressed interest in seeing the ocean life exhibit. The slow-moving lines of people waiting to hand over the individual $15 just to get in were mind-blowing. My reaction was to go somewhere else, but the out-of-towner looked around and spotted a bank of computers against a wall with a very short line. Sure enough, those computers were more than happy to spit out a couple of tickets after being fed $30 with a credit card.
On a recent weekday in Manhattan, I left my apartment for a visit to the Museum of Natural History on Central Park West. After a short wait a yellow cab came along, which proved to be ridiculously expensive. Prepare for an argument if you opt to pay by credit card and don’t select the maximum possible tip. The driver told me that the credit card fee comes out of his tip, which might or might not be accurate information! Either way, I don’t know why I tipped him, maybe because he managed to get me there alive, in spite of his constant lane changing and mad darts into oncoming traffic.
We made our way to the ocean life exhibit, which was actually very interesting. More high-tech tha n I expected, but less than it could be. I would have thought any museum in New York City in the 21st Century would be more interactive, but it was still interesting. The big surprise was the gift shop on three levels. I’m definitely going back there to do some Christmas shopping. I did not expect to find the selection of books, cds, artwork and jewelery, along with the usual touristy souvenir offerings, and all competitively priced. My out-of-towner bought himself a new Indiana Jones hat, very becoming.
Leaving the museum after a couple of hours, we took refuge in a very nice bistro on Amsterdam, with delicious dessert and wine served by a very friendly Romanian waitress. After a pleasant hour there, and with so many choices open to us in Manhattan, we cabbed it back to 96th Street to recover. Check back again to see what we did next!