I’d like to take some time later to write a long post about my experiences over the past week in Lower Manhattan in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but I want to mention something I saw today that made me realize that some things in New York City never change.
When I was on my way home, I saw an older man pushing shopping cart down the street. He stopped by the trash can, peered in, and then reached into a box in his cart. He pulled out a book, looked around as if he were making sure no one was watching him, and then ripped the front and back cover off the book and tossed it in the trash can. He then reached into his box and pulled out another book. At this point, he saw me watching him and turned away from me and hid clutched the book to his chest. He looked over his shoulder at me and then ripped the covers off the book. He tossed the remains of the book into the trash can along with the first one and then hurriedly crossed the street, where he peered briefly into the trash can on the corner before moving on, presumably to find more suitable trash cans to receive his defaced books.
I had stopped to watch this guy, so I’d missed the light to cross in the direction I was going. When I did cross over to the other corner, I found a man in dirty, rumpled clothing singing to a pile of dirty clothes in a shopping cart.
Last week, Lower Manhattan was very dark and the streets were relatively deserted. Thinking about it now, I don’t remember seeing anyone … weird… out there. Not weird by NYC standards anyway. But now, the power is back and the crazies are out again. Some things just don’t change.