What gets into people?
I know it’s a cliché, but sometimes I am so stunned by the behavior of some of my fellow human beings that I seriously have to wonder if they are human beings at all or ingeniously disguised aliens who aren't quite sure how things work around here.
I found myself asking this question yet again recently while I was on my way to work. Now for you out-of-towners out there, the area around Ground Zero is essentially one big construction area, so it tends to get noisy.
Drills, jackhammers, trucks rolling in all directions--it can be tough on the nerves and the eardrums. However, the big noise on John Street this particular morning was man—and woman—made.
I was walking down the street, half-asleep, wondering why the hell I wasn’t on a beach in Hawaii instead of freezing my kazoo off in New York, when I heard people shouting.
The yelling was so loud I could hear it over the regular racket that goes on in this neighborhood.
I looked across the street to a work site and I saw a big construction worker—there aren’t many small ones, I suppose--hollering at this petite woman.
I am a master at feigned indifference, so I continued my walk as if I weren’t the least bit interested in these two whilst expertly spying on the escalating confrontation. (I haven’t said “whilst” in a while.)
Initially I wondered why this thoughtless poltroon was shouting at this small, defenseless lady. What could possibly justify this outrageous behavior? What a bully, what a coward.
Then I started listening to what he was saying and when I realized what was going on, I looked at that woman and thought,"what an idiot!"
It turned out this lady was completely in the wrong. Not only had she ignored a sign telling people to cross the street because of the danger, she had also pulled back a metal bar blocking the sidewalk and was trying to walk right through the construction zone where men were most definitely at work.
“You have to go around!” the construction worker shouted. “You can’t walk here!”
The fact that she had to be told to stop was bad enough. But this asinine behavior was compounded by her pig-headed refusal to back down. Like Ratso Rizzo pounding on the hood of a taxi, she actually believed that she was the aggrieved party.
“You have to go around!” the construction worker shouted again.
'I'm Walkin' Here!'
There could be no doubt about what was going on. The noise was deafening, even by New York standards--clanging, crashing, drilling—the kind of location I like to avoid even without being told, seeing as how being crushed by a steel girder can really ruin your day.
But this woman was not about to cross the street with the riffraff, no sir. She was too goddamn important to change her course merely because some common laborers happened to be building a hotel in her path. The nerve of these guys!
I couldn’t hear what the woman was saying in response because she did not possess the hardhat’s lung capacity, which I suppose he developed from years of working on construction sites.
Finally, the woman decided to give it up and walk around the site like the rest of us lowlifes. However, she apparently tossed some insult over her shoulder as she was leaving because the hardhat had a hard response.
“So are you!” he shouted.
Okay, so I have to ask: what was this woman’s problem? What was the mindset here? And what did she say to that construction worker?
This woman was well-dressed and did not appear to be deranged or high.
I saw two cops detaining a homeless woman on Fulton Street a few months ago and it was immediately and painfully obvious why they were putting the cuffs on her. But this woman at the work site had no such excuse. She was allegedly normal.
One of my coworkers said there are some people who just believe that everything---and—everyone--else is in the way and must be shoved aside. I see a lot of that in New York and I don’t like it.
I wonder where this woman works, what she does for a living. Does she act this way with her friends or colleagues? If so, I feel very sorry for them.
Maybe she was going through some grief of her own, something so frustrating that the only way she could release her anger was to engage in a pointless argument with a total stranger. Rage comes in many disguises and shows up at the strangest times.
The woman went her way, I went mine, and the work continued. I don’t know where that lady is now, but if she hasn't gone back to her home planet, my advice to her is to keep looking up.
You never know when something might fall from the sky.