It was Saturday, Aug. 28, and I was on assignment to cover the Fringe Festival. My cameraman and I stepped on the 6 train at 1:15 p.m. with an hour to get down to Washington Square Park. I sat with crossed fingers because you know the subway on the weekend.
We were rolling along fine until Union Square. Then, the conductor kicked everyone off the train. We had three choices: wait for the next train, take a taxi or hoof it. We chose to hoof it because it’s fastest. We raced through the streets of lower Manhattan and hit Washington Square Park at 2 p.m. Whew!
With 15 minutes to kill, we perused the park. The show began. It was worth the mad rush. Read all about it here.
After the show, we walked for a good hour through a street fair outside the park. Then, it was time to take a load off. We strolled to a colonnade near NYU and sat at a metal table. A man wearing a wool hat and layers of clothes argued with the stifling August air.
We headed back to Union Square. A street vendor said, “Hello.” I said, “Hi!” He turned to his buddy and said with a heavy Euro accent, “Wow! Can you believe that?” I back-stepped and asked, “Believe what?” He said he had never heard anyone say “Hi” with such passion.
We reached Union Square. Superman jumped out from the trees raving about Doomsday. He startled me so I tripped over the Pullman in front of me. “He must be an actor,” I said. A guy on the crowded street replied, “No, honey, he’s just a nut.”
We checked out Union Square’s farmers market and bought some houseplants. Then, we sat on the steps of the park’s entrance. A small guy with a big mustache carrying a sign asked me for money. I said, “Sorry.” He asked for a cigarette. I said, “No, sorry.” He flew into a tirade about how I had to help him because he was a veteran, and my cameraman chased him away.
A few minutes later, we headed for the subway and saw the marauder with the mustache counting a hefty wad of money.
I toted my houseplants through Union Square Station, protecting them from the bedlam. I squeezed into the standing-room-only 6 train. The pot-bellied man in front of me smelled nauseating. The train stopped. A rider exited and bumped Pot Belly. He went off spewing a list of profanities that continued after the train rolled. Many eyes rolled.
I reached my home stop, climbed up the subway stairs, and encountered a man screaming about Jesus.
At that moment a thought hit me. More than 8 million New Yorkers deserve credit for keeping their sanity amid the city’s flavorful madness.