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Monday, December 17, 2007

Life on the Edge of a Very Big Precipice (in My Little Head)

Late last night, there was a skirmish outside Mark's building. A man and a woman were fighting in raised voices. I couldn't make out any distinct words, but the tones were angry and hurried.

Instinctively, I moved from the couch to the middle of the room, away from the windows. I've seen too many stories on NY1 about people getting hit by stray bullets. Call me paranoid, but I could just see anchorman Pat Kiernan reporting about me the next morning (over and over and over).

Greenpoint is the last place you'd think something bad would ever happen. A mix of older, working class families and the new younger crowd, it's generally a sleepy place, unlike its hipper, pricier sister, Williamsburg. There are a lot of drunks, a lot of bars and a lot of churches.

Mark said,'I'm going to tell them I'm calling the police.' He tied up the garbage, zipped up his jacket, and slithered downstairs.

'&*@#(!?' I thought. '#$*@!??!'

New York isn't dangerous these days, but the possibility of danger remains. Pockets of danger are limited to the sketchier neighborhoods. It's extremely rare to know people who've been mugged or attacked.

A guy in my building on the Upper West Side had been mugged. I'd heard the BANG of the entry door four flights down. When I ran into him in the hall, he said someone tried to force his way into the vestibule as he was getting in. Frantically, he'd gotten the entry door open in time to save himself.

An acquaintance had her purse snatched by a passing car in Spanish Harlem. My friend Nancy had her apartment burgled in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. She'd come home one day to find the door hanging off its hinges. She lived on a nice street, but it was a few blocks from the sketchy part of town.

I'd witnessed a stabbing victim when I first moved here, a bike theft in broad daylight, and a guy with his pants pulled down at the 23rd Street N/R subway station. Of course there still are regular con artists who've 'lost their wallets', or help people with luggage and then demand money. Those don't count in my book.

Even though it's relatively safe, I know things happen. I've heard of women being attacked or abducted and people being pushed into oncoming trains. At the slightest inkling of danger, my instinct kicks in. I am the biggest, paranoid chicken of them all. The crazy ranting weirdos on the subway make my palms sweat. I don't walk down streets that look too deserted. I am occasionally spooked out in my own apartment.

I heard Mark's voice outside and then the other voices subsided. He came up a minute later saying, 'Heroin addicts,' and requested a hug.

'I feel sorry for those people. They were really messed up.'

I closed my eyes, relieved.

For an earlier post about New York before it got itself spiffed up, click here.

Photo by myself, near Grand Central Terminal.


Tammy said...

I'm glad nothing bad happened to you guys. So....what was buddy with his pants down doing??? Never mind, I don't want to know. LOL!!!!

A Red Mind in a Blue State said...

"New York isn't dangerous these days, but the possibility of danger remains." I try to explain to my daughters, or to the younger people working here, what the City was like pre-Rudy--they simply don't believe me. I think your comment says it all-- forget 9/11, etc.--Rudy's legacy is in your observation.

Great photos!

kitty said...

haha Tammy. I'm glad I didn't have my camera with me. It was gross.

Thank you Red Mind! I hear war stories all the time about how nasty the parks and subway were. We live in a big cushy shopping mall in comparison.

I moved to NYC at the tail end of it. I forgot to mention the stabbing victim.

Just Jinny said...

I am just like that. "Hope for the best but prepare for the worst" is my motto. And I live in little ol' west Texas where nothing EVER happens.

So, good for you for thinking quick and I'm glad that nothing more serious came of it.

Spandrel Studios said...

You have a fellow paranoid-chicken in me, sweaty palms and all. I read this post quickly, scanning to the part where Mark came back.

What some people say is paranoid is what keeps you safe. Very glad everything turned out OK!

Reluctant Blogger said...

haha yeah I flicked to the end too just to check it had a happy ending.

Anyone with any sense is a chicken! Just read that back - it doesn't sound quite right, does it? But you know what I mean!

I am very careless about personal safety though - I run at all sorts of weird times and it is not as if I am fast enough to run away from anyone!

kitty said...

Good to know I'm not the only chicken out there, ladies. Careful RB with the running! Remember the Central Park jogger!!

I'm thinking a simple self-defense course might not be a bad thing.

I am sadly paranoid in my apartment sometimes. If I'm up late watching too much Law and Order, I have to check if there's anyone behind my curtains.