Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A New York Story

July in New York can be hot. And this day was no exception.

My friend Dave and I were making our way on foot, from Manhattan, to Grimaldi's, Brooklyn, the celebrated Pizza Parlour. At a guess, I would say the temperatures were in the upper nineties as we walked in downtown Manhattan; and though we were dressed appropriately (I wore light linen trousers and an even lighter cheesecloth shirt, and Dave was in shorts and tee-shirt) our discomfort showed in our red, sweaty faces, as we puzzled - how to get to the pedestrian walkway? We could see the bridge (it's difficult to miss) but we didn't have the vantage point to discern roads and pathways leading to it.

We guessed, if we walked back in towards the built-up area we would catch sight of the road leading to the bridge, and logically, this should be parallel to the 'footbridge'. So off we went, up a slight incline; the towering concrete of the city looming over of us.

A little way ahead, a man, short and slightly built, carried a bottle of water. He strode, unhurried up the incline. Dave called out, "Excuse me, sir. Do you know how we can get onto the bridge?". He stopped and turned. Steady eyes appraised us, and he replied with the question, "You're from England aren't you?".

Although the water he carried testified somewhat to his awareness of the heat, he otherwise appeared unperturbed. Underneath the intense mid-afternoon sun, he was relaxed and amicable, as he spoke of the UK with knowledge and affection. A charming fellow for sure, taking time out on the most sultry of summer days, to talk to strangers from Europe.

We passed the time listening to him demonstrate a remarkable knowledge of association football, and England in general; and as he adjusted his standing position his jacket fell open. I caught a glimpse of what looked like a polished wooden gun-handle; and as a Brit, unused to such things, I almost did a double-take. I couldn't resist asking, "Can I ask you a personal question?"

"Sure" came the reply".

"Is that a gun you're carrying there?".

Relaxed, as if it was the most natural question in the world, he answered, "Yep. I'm a cop, and this is where I work". With a slight movement of his head he indicated the building we were adjacent to.

We said our goodbyes and watched as he walked, or rather, flowed across the pavement with spectral serenity, into the doorway, and out of sight.

Probably the coolest bloke I've ever met.

Dave and I paused, momentarily computing the encounter; then, with what seemed like a shrug, we stepped in unison, away from the precinct, to find the walkway.

8 comments:

Sari said...

Very fluid and vivid. July heat was just what I needed this morning as I woke up to -20C (-4F). Thanks.

Michelle said...

Yes, the heat can get to you, that's for sure, and nothing like traveling at the time and required therefore to do a whole lot o trekking around a hilly stone, ancient city, while men in dark and heavy religious garb, heavy beards and hats walk by, and just by looking at them you sweat all the more...

I believe I'm getting slightly off topic, but perhaps there's a little of that in New York too.. not so much the ancient part.

Maundering mutterer said...

I love travelling. You can get lost and find yourself again by meeting interesting people and asking them for directions. A student in Uppsala (Sweden) once walked halfway across the city with a Vietnamese colleague and I. Heat in July is something I've only experienced twice in my life, so perhaps more travel is in order...

Ronald said...

Sari Thanks for the kind words. Minus twenty? Am I right in thinking it will get much colder than that?

Michelle Sounds sinister. Should I be worried about you? :-)

MM Come to England in July... I'll make you very welcome and comfortable :-) Yes, travelling is pretty cool and I've certainly done my fair share of it these past years, and met some amazing people too.

PAMO said...

I'm probably one of the least well traveled people on earth. Sigh.

So many people around here now have open carry permits that it looks like the wild, wild west. Gun, guns, guns.

A lovely post, dear friend. Wonderful to read. I declare your block over.

Ronald said...

PAMO I'm afraid the block isn't over. I'm trawling through posts of old which I think warrant resurrection. I figured they're best out there for public view rather than doing nothing in an archive folder.

PAMO said...

Yes, I agree- better to have them out. Perhaps they will inspire you to write something new.

Ronald said...

PAMO I've got some bits and pieces I may be able to throw together. But not till the weekend.