I had a moment today when I finally realised what it must be like to be a New Yorker. As I left the office, the sun was shining but a gentle breeze took any edge off any lingering humidity. A man left the florists at the entrance to the building with three red roses for his girlfriend, and a couple kissed the kiss of two people who hadn’t seen each other for weeks, as I crossed the road. Walking the block or so to the subway station, I passed a nurse from the nearby hospital talking animatedly with a friend, maybe about her adventures from the weekend or a forthcoming date. A little kid smiled at me from a
pushchairstroller as he was wheeled through the sights and sounds of the city.
All in all, a picture of urban bliss.
And then I walked down the few steps to the gate into the subway station, and got caught behind two people who decided to only look for their metro cards at the very moment they were blocking the single entrance into the station. As a growing crowd gathered behind me, the happiness and contentment I’d felt only seconds earlier vanished to be replaced by a powerful blast of steam rising from deep within. Only once the train came a few minutes later did the joy return to overcome the moment of madness.
It was New York doing this to me, I thought. This city was making me tense and uptight, changing my mood in a matter of seconds from happy-go-lucky soul to grumpy commuter. But then it dawned on me. The cities may be different, but my reactions will always be the same. You can take the Brit out of water, but it’ll take a hell of a lot more to take the grumpy old man out of the Brit.