I got off a half-day today and went to Chinatown for lunch and haircut. Stepping out of the office, I needed to walk a short distance to the 42nd street subway station. Since it’s New Year’s Eve, I decided to walk down Broadway to check out the preparations on Times Square.
New Year’s resolution: quit being stupid.
Eleven hours (plus an extra second) to go until 2009, and Times Square was already packed with more people than I imagined possible. Three blocks to go. Depending on the date and time, it could be a breezy one-minute walk. Not today, though, as I worried for the weight of the massive tourists to sink the sidewalk below the street level. Walking through this crowd was like swimming upstream against an avalanche. People squeezed each other in all directions to a point where lungs could collapse. I pushed forward, hard, only not to get pushed back. If I had dropped anything, I wouldn’t expect to be able to retrieve it back. People screamed for others not to push; people screamed at the noices from the hand-held horns; I wanted to scream only about my hunger. How do you expect a New Yorker to improve his attitude if you keep delaying his lunch?
I struggled for ten long minutes just to get from one door of Toys R Us to the other. Swatch being a smart store didn’t even open for business today. Okay, one block down and the station was still far away. I drifted away from the crowd and walked on the one remaining car lane on the road. It had barricades from both sides to avoid the crowd from spilling onto it. At the same time, when a car came I wouldn’t be able to get out of the way, either. My risk management instincts told me that it was still less dangerous than staying on the sidewalk.
As snow covered my glasses and the gusting wind cut my face, I wondered if the folks waving the Taiwanese flags would even make it through 2008 alive. What’s so great about counting down to just another year? These crazies were to wait in the damn cold with no food or drink for more hours than most of them would willingly work in a day, coughing their lungs out five inches from the faces of their new best friends who were complete strangers this morning, peeing in a cup when necessary and killing time watching the pee freeze, just so that they could hug and kiss each other randomly when the ball drops from atop and sprinkles confetti that add colors to the street litter for the weeks to come.
Man. The cheery holiday season makes me so bitter.
Check out the sheer mass of the NYPD: