Jessica Gross

Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

On Boston

In musings on March 30, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I visited Boston last weekend. And I have to say: I don’t get it.

Why on earth do people like Boston?

The friends I was visiting liked that it was a city, but not too big, or too dirty, or too mean, like that crummy New York. Well, I understand the desire for cleanliness and a small-town, friendly feel. But then why bother living in a city? The whole point of a city is that it’s exciting! There’s always something to do! There are a billion people you don’t know! The air is polluted! Why not just live in a small town if you want sterility and best friends forever living next door?

I will give Boston the Charles. That is quite a river. But then again, the city is cold. River negated.

Can someone defend Boston for me? I honestly would like to be enlightened.

The Case of the Gym Cookie

In people watching on March 25, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I’d just bonded with the elliptical for 40 minutes and was walking out of the gym when a man in a hat embroidered with “Caffe Noi” stopped me. He was guarding a table heaped with free food. In the middle was a giant plate of cookies.

Cookies? At the New York Sports Club? At 8:30 on a Wednesday morning?

“Why are you serving cookies at the gym? In the morning?” I asked. I meant to inquire with polite curiosity — I really was baffled — but it came out as an accusation.

“You’re going to eat something anyway, aren’t you?” he retorted.

Well, yes, I was going to eat something: cereal, not a pile of chocolate rugaluch. Why the obsession with early-morning sugar highs?

Luckily, our cookie-table friend understood my will was not ill and gave me a present: a free coffee coupon. Plug for Caffe Noi!

Brucepack

In musings, people watching on March 17, 2009 at 5:59 pm

A couple of Trader Joe’s trips ago, I spied a man with a backpack. That’s cool; I, too, carry my groceries in a backback. (I also try to wear boots and sweatpants so I can feel outdoorsy and hardcore.)

But his was no normal backpack: it was a Brucepack. That is, the word “Bruce” — presumably his name — was etched onto his bag.

Parents are warned not to give their children accessories that announce their identities, which would make them good prey for strangers. But shouldn’t the same go for adults? In fact, I bet adults would be especially susceptible to a kidnapping, because they’d never expect it! Even the word “kidnapping” assumes you’re a baby-faced Oshkosh-wearer.

Stranger: Hey, Bruce!

Bruce: Oh…uh, hey?

Stranger: What’s doing, my man? Great to see you and the wife at that cocktail party last month!

Bruce: Uh, yeah! The cocktail party! Great to see you too.

Stranger: Hey, you know, I’m heading home — want a lift with that huge bag of groceries? Sure must suck to take the bus with that thing. Give us some time to catch up, too…

Didn’t happen. But it could’ve.

Bus Blooper

In people watching on March 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

At 3:00a.m. on Friday night (technically, Saturday morning), I hopped on the uptown M15 to head home from a party — my friend’s roommate’s boyfriend’s party. (Whew.) My roommate, on hearing what I’d done, chastised me. “The bus? At three in the morning? You’re insane.”

But I wasn’t: there were a few friendly folks aboard my trusty vessel. One guy yelled to his friend as he boarded, in a thick New York accent: “Call me at home!” (“Cawl me at home!”)

The bus’s microphone picked up his voice. “CAWL ME AT HOME!” The guy looked out at the four of us passengers, smiling. “I guess everyone heard that.” And, as he sat behind me, “I’m on here til 83rd Street!”

So, my two points: (1) the bus is safer than you think, and (2) even on public transportation, you can make a new friend. You just might have to embarrass yourself first.

Stop Requested

In musings, people watching on March 6, 2009 at 5:33 pm

If you’ve never ridden a New York City bus, let me induct you into our elite circle with some info about protocol. Unlike our underground friend, the subway, the bus does not pull over at every stop along its route. No siree! If there are people at the bus stop, yeah, it’ll let them on. But if no one is waiting, something special has to happen.

Are you on the edge of your seat? I present you with the magic formula: to ensure that the bus will let you off, you’ve got to press the tape.

Huh? What’s the tape? Oh, silly you. Along the walls of the bus, at two-seat intervals, are sensor-filled strips, colored yellow or black. When you push on these pieces of “tape,” the bus driver is alerted that you’d like to get off at the next stop. That way, if no one’s waiting and no one needs to get off, the bus can sail right by the stop without wasting time.

It’s a brilliant system. As I mused about it today on the M79, something odd struck me: people usually don’t wait until the last minute to press the tape, hoping that someone will do it before them. With regularity, passengers request each stop way before the bus has reached it.

Why did this surprise me? For one, I’m not one of the responsible passengers: I often do wait for someone else to push the tape. And, whenever I wait, someone else takes action.
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Snowstorm in March

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

As I sprinted toward the M79 bus this morning, fistfuls of snow flew in my face. I blinked the flakes out of my eyes and forged ahead, big boots flying.

“What, you was playing in the snow?” the bus driver asked as I boarded, then burst into hysterics. “The collar!” he shrieked, pointing at my snow-caked jacket.

Actually, I would like to play in the snow. So he wasn’t far off.