Jessica Gross

Posts Tagged ‘people watching’

Subway Fail

In people watching on April 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

I never mastered the art of reading a newspaper on the train. I’ve mastered the fold — I can get the thing down to a sliver — but it’s the opening, the folding of the front page to access page two, that stumps me.

Today, as I tried to make that first fold, my arms got carried away, as if they were commanded by a different brain. I nearly punched the man seated next to me in the face. He flinched, withdrawing from my newsweapon.

“Sorry!” I squawked. He smiled; all was well.

But I was embarrassed. Real New Yorkers can read the newspaper on the subway. As I got off, I apologized again.

“No worries,” he said. “It was funny.”

“I have depth perception problems,” I said.

Depth perception problems?

Bottom line: I need to practice the first-page fold. Maybe even in front of a mirror. (And never say “depth perception problems” again.)


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!

“You Must Have Been Hungry!”

In musings, people watching on February 23, 2009 at 4:08 pm

My friend from pre-school (oldest friendship!) and I went to dinner at the Bar at Etats-Unis on Saturday. (Side note: delightful, but pricey. I loved my duck salad.) The bartender took a liking to us and gave us a complimentary molten chocolate cake and dessert wine at the end of the meal.

Free chocolate cake? This couldn’t be real. We looked at the cake; we looked at each other. Cake; each other. Cake. We dug in.

This cake oozed molten chocolate. I wanted to jump inside and take a swim. We finished it, scraping the plate.

The bartender came to clear our dishes and gaped at us, the gluttonous mutants, shaking his head. “Remind me not to go up against you,” he said, in mock horror.

I get comments like this at least a third of the times that I go out to eat. (My favorite, at a restaurant in DC last month: “You did such a GOOD job!” It was a sandwich.) My friend is one of the skinnier people I know, and I’m a small girl. Are waiters just baffled that a little person can actually consume food? Or is it that, in looks-conscious cities like New York and DC, it’s unusual to find any female finishing her dish?

Excuse Me, You’re in My Picture

In people watching on February 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm

A friend and I stood outside the Cloisters, admiring the sparkly Hudson from our castle. Next to us stood a camera-wielding group of three, also peering over the wall.

Except they were staring at us, not the river. We half-smiled; turned back to the Hudson. They continued to stare. My friend wondered if they wanted us to take their picture.

We continued to look sidelong at each other for some minutes before they told us that we were in the way of their picture. Oh. We walked out of the way.

And, on discovering that the short path led to a dead end, we were forced to relive the awkwardness on our way back.

On a side note, though, if you haven’t been to the Cloisters, go. It’s an offshoot of the Met way up on the West side. The Medieval European art is good, but what’s memorable is the view — an expansive one, since the museum is on a big hill. Memorable, that is, if you can get a picture without two goofs idling in the background.


In people watching on November 3, 2008 at 12:08 pm

On the back of a seat on the Long Island Rail Road:

McCain = Right
Obama = Rev. Wright

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?

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?