Walking back from the subway station this evening,
skipping merrily through the hay meadowtrudging down the rain-sodden road with a heavy bag in my hand, the glorious idyll was shattered by a cacophony of honking horns. The crime of the poor startled driver who had prompted the orchestra of vehicular outrage? He’d only managed to hit his accelerator 0.8 seconds after the traffic light had turned green, rather than the 0.05 seconds demanded under the unwritten Rules Of The Road 2007 (New York edition).
To say that New Yorkers are impatient would be an understatement. New Yorkers reading this blog entry are probably already getting hot under the collar that I haven’t got to the end of the post, such is their inability to wait anything more than ten seconds for the completion of any given task. In this city, for example, a bagel is toasted in less time than in takes to pay for it, simply because people won’t tolerate hanging around for their breakfast.
But nowhere is a New Yorker’s impatience more evident than at a set of traffic lights. It’s almost as if every single red light signals the start of the Indy 500, and the potential championship winner has suddenly found himself stuck behind Bert and Doris Lester out for a leisurely Sunday afternoon tour of knitting museums. The moment the light even thinks about turning green, eight people are instantly on their horns, leaving the hapless front runner to look at the crossing pedestrians ahead with an apologetic shrug that says, “I don’t want to run you over but the people behind me are in an awful hurry, so many apologies if this hurts a little bit.”
It seems like the only time a New Yorker is patient is in the lengthy line for the newly opened Abercrombie & Fitch flagship on Fifth Avenue. Patience may be a virtue after all, but only when there’s a retail opportunity at the end of the line.