Monday, November 26, 2007

Even though she be only a woman and a Christian and therefore unworthy of your interest

I returned to NYC last night, and the city welcomed me this morning with rain, fog and unexplained subway delays that made me 15 minutes late for work. In my experience, in terms of refusing to communicate with its customers, the MTA is rivaled only by the Martz Trailways bus company. Aren't I lucky that I was able to make both a part of my holiday travel! I was at work for about an hour before I realized I had my sweater on inside-out. In my defense, it's one of those sweaters (popular last season) where the seams are designed to make it look inside-out when you're wearing it correctly, so it looked fine -- except for the tag sticking out of my hip. And the one at the back of my neck. And I'm not wearing anything under it, so I had to sneak away to the bathroom to fix it. This is going to be some week, I can tell.

I really love the cafeteria in the building where I (sometimes) work. I love that there is one, first of all, and the food is generally very good. Every day there's a theme for the hot-food options, and today it was "Global Vegetarian Indian." Music to my ears! After waiting in a slow line, I was finally helping myself to some tofu and eggplant masala when a couple of women stopped behind me to read today's theme. "Global vegetarian Indian -- ugh," said the first. "The only word I like there is 'global.'" Her friend laughed and said, "I don't trust vegetarians." Hello, I am standing right here, filling my plate with said food. I'm sorry if my meal choice disgusts you, but maybe you could save the insulting generalizations for when you're more than a foot away from me? I'm used to being basically invisible when I'm working as a freelancer, but that's just bad manners.

That reminded me of an experience I had at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the beautiful but regrettably zoolike seat of the Archdiocese, on Fifth Avenue. Once not too long ago, I found myself with some time to kill in the area, so I stopped in to look around and say a prayer or two. There's a side altar dedicated to St. Elizabeth Seton, with a striking, modernist bronze sculpture of her. (You can see a picture of it on the artist's website -- if you're standing at the main entrance to the church, it's on the right side aisle.) Mother Seton happens to be my patron saint, so I went over to say hello and light a candle for my intentions. As I was standing there, head bowed reverently in prayer, a couple of teenagers who were making their way around the church stopped behind me. "Ugh! What the hell is that?!" scoffed a boy, referring, I presume, to the sculpture. Even though I managed not to shout, "That is a shrine in honor of my patron saint, and you might have noticed that I and others are praying beside it. Which is what one does in a church. Which is where you are, in case you weren't aware," I'm afraid my prayers didn't get very far after that interruption.

Nowadays I know better than to go to St. Pat's and expect to pray. And that girl who doesn't trust vegetarians -- well, something tells me I wouldn't trust her either. But am I wrong to expect people to keep their negative opinions to themselves until they're out of earshot of others who might love the very thing they scorn? I've sat through some truly terrible theatre in my day, but I try to wait till I'm outside the lobby before I share my opinion, so as not to offend the strangers nearby who actually thought the show in question was a masterpiece. And I think Go, Diego, Go! is just about the most irritating background noise I can imagine, but I wouldn't say so in front of my very devoted nephews while they were watching it. (Even though they wouldn't hear me, because when Diego is on, nothing else matters.)

Ooh, and while we're on the topic of annoyances: the guy at the 96th Street subway station who plays the electric guitar and whines his way through standards and Christmas songs? His rendition of "Misty" makes me want to throw myself on the tracks. He can go away now. People leaving the subway who go through emergency exits and set off the alarms because they don't feel like standing in line for the non-emergency exit like everyone else? I don't feel like listening to the alarm blaring after they're gone, and I hope someday they get stuck in a floor-to-ceiling turnstile for hours. And people who hold up cafeteria lines by selecting their food very slo-o-owly and placing it on their tray very meticulously, as though they were planning to enter their completed plate in a food-photography competition? They need to get over their obsession. Because I get cranky when I'm hungry, and someday I am going to grab the tongs out of their hands and stab them in the neck.

Phew. I think I might need another holiday weekend.

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