Jessica Gross

Hiding in the Crowds

In musings, people watching on October 6, 2008 at 3:34 pm

There’s no privacy in New York. But I consider some places “private” because, even though I’m surrounded by people, I don’t know any of them. Privacy via anonymity.

On the bus this morning, I was being anonymous and antisocial, peering over the top of my newspaper at the other passengers. Another woman (“Janice”), across the aisle, was doing the same. A few stops along, a hefty woman (“Franny”) boarded and made it apparent to the rest of the bus that she and Janice were comrades. Janice faked pleasure. Franny didn’t get the fake vibes and wiggled in next to Janice, striking up a conversation that lasted until they both got off at the same stop.

As I watched, I grew frightened that I might run into my own fake friend and slouched further behind my paper. I rarely run into people I know in my public-space hideaways. But then, I only moved into my apartment and started using these transportation routes a month ago. What if I’d lived on the Upper East Side for years and had a community there? Where would I hide? No escape!

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