Hoodlums, hop-heads and hobos, we always hear about their excursions in NYC. The dreaded Ratapuss, Roach-de-scustius, and Bedbugius scamper through the news. Crime, bomb threats, slumlords and Bellevue-bound blighted brains make the media. This is certainly not the crux of New York City. If it was, more than 8 million people wouldn’t live here. And more than 47 million tourists wouldn’t visit each year.
There is a side to New York City that mainly New Yorkers see. It’s subtle and sort of the secret life of publicized NYC. Many of this life’s stories go untold. Here’s one:
On the cusp of this year’s winter/spring, I was shopping on an uncanny boisterous and rainy night. The elements blew me into the nearest McDonalds for a hot cup o’ Joe. I had to warm up; I just couldn’t take anymore.
I stayed with bundles in booth while my best friend ordered.
A frail old man entered. Wrapped in a fur coat and dunked in the pool a few times, he still wouldn’t have weighed 100 pounds, But he wasn’t wearing a fur coat, or any coat, or even a sweater. And no hat protected his grandpa-bald head with the gray ring around the bottom.
He stood silent behind the order lines, near the wall, with his hands folded in front, warming up.
As my friend slapped our burger feast on the table, I rose and whispered, “He’s probably hungry, surrounded by all this food. It’s like torture. I’m going to try to buy…”
“Hey, Pops! Can I get you a nice hot meal?” a young woman shouted from one of the order lines.
I fell in my seat stricken by her concern. Just then, a buxom lady ran out of the restaurant. I thought, “Oh, no! She’s going for a cop and I’m going to end up getting arrested fighting for this poor guy.”
Pops declined the generous meal offer. He didn’t want to be any trouble; he didn’t want the woman to spend money on him. “I got it, Pops!” she insisted until he agreed to a hot cup o’ Joe.
A young man toting take-out offered Pops a buck. “No, thanks, son, I’m no beggar,” Pops replied. “I know that, Pops,” the young man assured as he stuffed the buck in Pops’ shirt pocket.
McDonalds’ front door flew in. The buxom woman crouched in the middle of the lobby, clasping her thighs, gasping for breath. All eyes hung upon her until she exclaimed, “Hey, Pops! I got you a place to stay for the night.” Turns out she was a nurse at the nearby hospital. She had raced over there in the cold, pouring rain to secure some emergency digs for Pops.
Did a miracle take place in McDonalds that night or are New Yorkers’ goodhearted actions matter-of-fact? Does NYC’s secret life roll when the cameras don’t?
The unbelievable “Part Two” of this story will expose the truth as will my new blog, NYC Sunnyside Up.
Fernanda Santos, “Record 47 Million Tourists Visit City,” The New York Times
U.S. Census Bureau, “Population Finder,” New York City, NY