Friday, April 22, 2011
Before & After
The foot surgery has been over for two and a half months now, and until I can walk without pain or lurching, I am going to take comfort from the things that made it almost worthwhile. Chief among those was:
Taxis. Taking taxis is an expensive habit and, once acquired, hard to break. The commute to Times Square cost anywhere from eight to twelve dollars (including tip). The best, most efficient drivers got screwed, because I calculated the tip from the meter. Only one driver asked me what route I wanted to take. Coincidentally, he was also the only driver who was a native-born American, and the only one who asked me what happened to my foot. Others were Greek and Egyptian and Indian and Algerian and Tibetan and Pakistani and Bangladeshi. One driver took me straight up Park to 42nd and then couldn’t make a left turn, so I had to take a crosstown bus the rest of the way. Another took me to Herald Square instead of Times Square, and then had to go over to Eighth Avenue to get uptown and couldn’t make a right turn onto 42nd, so I had to limp from there. For some reason, I thought he was Samoan.
The scooter was a big hit around the office. I tried taking it out on the street, but it had no shock absorbers, and rattling over the city sidewalks was pretty bone-jarring. I soon learned to use it only for essential errands, like exchanging cat food when Petco delivered a case of the wrong stuff.
Home delivery is one of the things I had been saving for extreme old age, but no longer. I don’t know if I can be bothered to carry home my own groceries ever again. It’s so easy: I call, give my order to a surprisingly smart girl, she picks out the biggest bunch of bananas in the store, the guy shows up with a twenty-pound bag of cat litter, I tip him, and I end up saving money because if I went to the store myself, even if I picked out a smaller bunch of bananas and bought only a ten-pound bag of litter, I’d end up spending more because I'd buy all kinds of things that weren’t on my list. Home delivery from Petco did not work out that well (see above, under Scooter). You know how the cashiers are always on the phone when you’re trying to check out? Well, it wasn't with me. I was on hold in the hamster department.
Sneakers: Before this winter, I had never worn sneakers to the office. I have never been one to overdress for work, but under doctor's orders to wear sneakers, I found myself sinking to new sartorial lows to make the sneakers blend in. I observed not only Casual Friday but also Casual February, March, and April.
It is almost impossible to get a taxi in Times Square, so to get home from work I have had to resort to buses—another thing that, like home delivery and matinees, I was saving for old age. Now that I can take the subway again, guess what: I prefer not to. I like the bus. I like to sit up front in one of the seats reserved for the handicapped and look out the window. I used to think buses were too slow, but if you're not going far, it doesn't take that long, and a bus ride is blissfully quiet compared with the subway. Once, my bus got rerouted from Fifth to Seventh, and instead of getting irritable I realized I could transfer to a crosstown bus that would let me off even closer to home. A woman with her leg in a cast got on at Fifth Avenue and sat down next to me, and I recognized her: she was a friend of a friend—I'd been to her place for dinner, and I'd heard that she had killer shin splints or something. We thought it was hilarious that our various ailments had landed us both on the same bus. She'd been on a Fifth Avenue bus, and knew that my bus had been rerouted because of a fire—flames were shooting out of the top of a building. You would never find this kind of camaraderie in the subway.