Monday, December 17, 2007
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.