Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eccentrics of New York City

Lately I have some quite amusing examples of what I would call the eccentrics of New York City. I suppose in such a large and fast city as New York is it can be hard to be noticed. I by no means want  to make a mockery of mental health. I have it around me (family and friends) so that would be the last thing I would ever want to do .However it is amusing to see how some of the inhabitants of New York somehow like to “stand out”.
I was at the 72nd subway platform heading downtown with Isabel. We were waiting for our train to 50th and there was a middle aged woman waiting for her the train also. She looked very normal standing there with her “Fairways” shopping bag and looking blankly across the track. She gradually started humming some sort of tune which seemed to me quite normal However when suddenly she broke into an operetta there was a very strange element to her behavior. I kept watching her discreetly as I didn’t want her to notice me staring however she continued singing as if she were on the stage performing to a crowd of adoring fans. At this stage Isabel noticed and asked me why she was doing that. I responded that she felt like singing. Isabel thought it was very strange which I must admit I did too.
There are lot of “singers” on the subways here in New York. Only yesterday as the four of us were on a train heading back from Brooklyn. I cannot remember which stop she got on but this woman entered and asked if she could sing to the carriage.  Nobody acknowledged her request however she then proceeded to sing what seemed to be some gospel song. She had a beautiful voice and I wonder if she was some devoted Christian spreading the “word”. Hugo was across from me and we tried hard not to make eye contact as we knew we both would burst into laughter. I felt like a 13 year old back in the church at school trying hard not to giggle when one of us was doing something we were not suppose to be doing in a church. She finished her song, thanked us all for listening and moved to the next carriage.
My local laundromat is probably the most non eventful of places I go to here in New York.  However the other night as I was doing some laundry I noticed and Asian woman having a conversation with no one around her.  I assumed she had a bluetooth on and speaking to someone while collecting her washing from the machine. She proceeded to put it into the dryer which are located on the opposite side of the wall. As I took a more careful look I noticed she had no phone? She started to get somewhat distressed I noticed. Of course the busybody in me kept watching and it seemed she had lost her laundry card. We have these cards we need to use to operate both washing machines and driers. We load them with cash ( pre pay) and the use them to do our laundry. She proceeded to go to the attendants who can barely speak English and demanded they pay for her drying. I noticed they sort of ignored her which was strange as they are so lovely to everyone normally. I then presumed that maybe she was a “regular” who also was a bit of a weirdo. She progressively got louder and then started talking to her imaginary GPS. Yes she kept talking to her “GPS” who was going to find the laundry card. I actually felt quite sorry for her as she was very nicely dressed and seemed like she was probably quite a normal person. She was not ok and even as I was leaving she stood out the front of the Laundromat still talking to the GPS. She kept repeating the same thing over and over.
Maybe the fact the health care system here in the US is so bad that people are unable to get the appropriate Mental Health care they need? I would think mental health would be a huge issue here as is diabetes and heart disease. People can simply not afford to either get the help or even pay for the medication they need. I think people in Australia complain about our Health Care system but would be very surprised to see how much better it is than here. This country has some amazing qualities however health care is certainly not one of them.

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