Friday, September 06, 2002

Today it is clear and clean and that of course gives me the willies, particularly in the morning. (see 8/8/02 blog re: the 11th) But it’s great weather for a walk, so that is what I took, ranging far and wide across the Village and Westerly parts.

I visited a bookstore, forgot to run an errand, saw men traipsing through crime scene tape, and noticed a new infusion of Goth fashion among the young recruits of NYU. And it seemed to me that the Toyota Echo quotient of the general vicinity has increased in the past few days. Guess their marketing plans sucked in the boomer dads and moms who thought: It’s a Toyota, Let’s buy it for Junior! Just as they were meant to, when the marketing executives sat at that big conference table trying to work out a way to get kids hooked younger.

Not that I am anti-Toyota, mind you. Some of my best moments in high school were had in the passenger seat of a faded red Toyota Corona gripping the dash as my friend Vic tried to break the sound barrier in a 20-year-old hunk of junk.

But that was more about Vic than the car, wasn’t it?
Yesterday there was a blind woman approaching an area that had been roped off for construction. She was moving slowly, cane outstretched, as if she could sense an obstruction, but the cane would have slipped below the rope and I was just getting worried about her and wondering if I should do anything to assist, and if so, what (since it’s not always kind to interfere with blind folks’ navigation), when a fellow passerby walking a large dog stopped, addressed her very politely and with a minimum of fuss explained to her the nature of the obstacle in front of her.

She didn’t understand immediately what he was talking about, but it was obvious from the grace with which he did the thing that it would soon be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. I later saw the same fellow deposit a small plastic bag containing dog feces into a trash can, evidence that all was resolved satisfactorily for the dog as well.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

At lunchtime I saw umpteen students meandering sloppily (the curse of the uninitiated walkers) through Washington Square on their to and fro (their dorms or their classes). They remind me, in retrospect, of hobbits. Pierced anorexic shaved hobbits, but small and burbly nevertheless.

I bought two books from a chap who was bemoaning the fact that his bosses make him read mysteries instead of the plain fiction he prefers, and then scurried back to the office like a — well, a hobbit, really — myself. The bookseller had in fact mistaken me initially for a student on a mission for an Edgar Allen Poe title their prof had ordered. So it all comes round in the end.

Online I saw some really enticing electric vehicles, none of which appear to be actually available to your average adventuresome consumer. What a shame. All this brainpower and cool technology going to waste because the Big Three can’t get over a fossil fuel prejudice. But that is waxing political, and I am sworn to observe, describe, muse, and not pontificate too much.

Still, they are groovy little cars. GM’s EV1 and Ford’s EV Th!nk.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

This afternoon, on the way to Kmart (an urgent need for socks), I saw a striking tall man with a giant afro standing on the corner at Astor Place holding upright in one hand a half-nibbled mango, with the skin still on the bottom half and bright orange flesh peeking out the top half. An oddly tropical and provocative image for a ho-hum day in a city bustling with midwestern college students trying to adjust to the crowds.

Kmart was unusually jammed, but I survived it by the bright-idea expedient of pulling out my subway book and reading it in line. I didn’t even have to let out one of those frustrated sighs that usually escape those in line behind a woman buying a very full cart worth of household supplies. Calm, calm, calm—well, as calm as I get in the metropolis, anyway. I am so proud.
This weekend I saw a lot of the inside of Home Depot, and a strange pattern emerged. The guy manning the ceiling fan area was lovely, folksy, and super-helpful. The several persons manning the paint section were inarticulate, perpetually annoyed, and condescending.

People need paint a lot more often than they need ceiling fans. Now I ask you, chicken or egg? Is the fellow in ceiling fans so nice because he doesn’t get many visitors and actually welcomes the company, not to mention an opportunity to be of use to a do-it-yourselfer? Did the Pricks in Paint start out as kindhearted souls and only get nastier and more snobbish by dint of having been asked the same questions day in day out by rank amateurs who are certain that at least they can paint their own bedrooms, even if they must call in pros for every other aspect of home improvement?

Or does the Grand Bufoo Head Honcho of Home Depot have a sadistic streak and place those with the worst customer-service skills in the section that sees the most action from the least experienced home improvers?

Like the age-old question of How Many Licks Does It Take To Get The Center Of A Tootise Roll Pop, the world may never know.