Jessica Gross

Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Creepy Subway Singing

In musings, people watching on October 31, 2008 at 11:43 am

Three times this week, the person sitting next to me on the subway has started singing. I don’t mean singing along with music. I don’t mean singing for money. I mean singing a soft, creepy tune, as if to themselves, except not.

This isn’t okay. When I’m on the subway, reading my book, and a stranger launches into one of these ditties, I feel (a) distracted, (b) irritated, and then (c) afraid. I repeatedly jump to the conclusion that the person is haunted. Logical?


Halloween in New York

In musings, people watching on October 29, 2008 at 11:41 am

Last year was my first NYC Halloween, and I acted the part of newcomer: I went to the Halloween Parade. Big mistake. In an attempt to cross the street, I was pressed between one man’s butt and another’s stomach. The stomach pressed into my chest so forcefully that I thought I might pass out from lack of oxygen. Do not try this.

Since I was otherwise occupied, I didn’t answer my biggest question: what does trick-or-treating look like in New York City? Do the kids buzz random apartments to get into buildings? Do they just trick-or-treat in their own buildings? Or…is there no trick-or-treating?
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Medical Mishap: A Subway Story

In people watching on October 28, 2008 at 11:51 am

As told by my coworker and paraphrased by myself:

This morning, on the train, there was a commotion on my car. A woman in her 50s, well dressed, reading The Times, was falling all over herself. She was twitching; people had to stabilize her. They called doctors — apparently she was on all types of meds.

She was like, Listen — I have a friend waiting for me, just let me get off this train. The EMTs came and took her to the hospital.

Do you know where she was going on the train? To her private practice psychotherapy office.

Self-Conscious New York

In people watching on October 27, 2008 at 1:18 pm

On the subway, I peered down at a lucky, seated girl (my face was pressed against the wall). She had on a giant ring. I examined the giant ring. I admired it.

She noticed me staring at her hands and looked at them. Suddenly she was picking at the chipped polish on her fingernails. She looked distressed.

She saw me staring, figured I must be judging something, and took it as a cue to judge herself.

In my brain: “Sweet ring.” In her brain: “My nails look gross! Ugh, embarrassing. I definitely need to repaint those.”


In people watching on October 24, 2008 at 10:12 am

“But be careful,” said a father, arm-in-arm with his elementary-school son. “Write what you want to write, not what she wants you to write.”

No, THIS is the Cutest Thing Ever

In people watching on October 22, 2008 at 9:12 pm

An adorable baby sat next to his mom on the bus. He was a happy baby! He smiled at the other passengers and made big O shapes with his mouth. Then he found a toy: his mother’s MetroCard, which he repeatedly took out of and slipped back into its thin plastic case.

Fitting the card into the case was a challenge. When the baby succeeded, he beamed and yelled “Yay!” This prompted the woman across the bus aisle to yell “Yay!” and clap her hands.

A few successes later, the entire front half of the bus was playing. Every time the card went into its home, everyone clapped and hoorayed. I was laughing aloud. Babies!

Didn’t I say bus people were nicer?

The Gift that Wasn’t

In musings on October 21, 2008 at 5:37 pm

A friend of mine just got an enormous shoe rack in the mail. The thing — at least 30 pounds in its unwieldy box — took 20 minutes to move from her living room to her bedroom. She spent four hours constructing it. She spent 10 minutes looking for six pieces the company didn’t include. She spent two hours deconstructing it, repacking it, and taping it up to return to the company.

Another friend’s aunt presented her with a couch from the ’70s that was both outdated and decomposing. Her mom insisted she keep the couch so as not to insult her aunt. Now she has to sit on a pile of mothballs that offends multiple senses.

How much do you have to put up with for gratitude’s sake? And what’s the threshold between a bestowal and a burden?

Share your thoughts and non-gift stories in the comments.

Overheard on the Subway

In people watching on October 20, 2008 at 11:27 am

Mother: Open your mouth!

Five-year-old kid (shaking head): Mm-mm!

Mother: I said, open your mouth!

Kid: Mm-mm!

Mother: I know you swallowed that gum.

No response.

Mother: I’m not playing! I’m gonna slap you!

Kid opens his mouth. There is no gum.

Mother: You swallowed that cum! — I mean, gum!

Kid: I love you, Mommy.

Mother: I love you, too. Here — have another piece of gum. And don’t swallow it. You hear me?

Cute Alert

In musings, people watching on October 19, 2008 at 2:30 pm

I was approaching a street corner on a run this morning when a father and his toddler daughter jumped onto the curb. They’d just sprinted across the street and were panting and thrilled.

The father looked up at me from where he was crouching, cueing his daughter to do the same. “Look, she’s running, too!” he said. I laughed.

They get my Cutest Thing I’ve Seen Today award.

The Lost Doll

In musings, people watching on October 16, 2008 at 4:27 pm

This morning, on the way from the 6 train to the turnstyle, I spied a doll lying on the ground. She was yellow, with pretty yarn hair. She was also dirty, as she’d been mashed by the soles of many shoes.

I tried to make myself walk through the turnstyle. But I couldn’t! I kept picturing a kid realizing the doll was lost and shrieking in mourning. I turned around and picked up the stinky doll with two outstretched fingers. I was a hero!

Dolly and I turnstyled. I approached the ticket booth. “Hi, I found this doll on the floor,” I said. “Is there a lost and found?”

“It’s on 34th Street,” she said. She didn’t swoon at the sight of the stuffed child.
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