The young Orthodox Jewish man approached me while I stood in Grand Central Terminal drinking a diet soda.
“Excuse me, sir, are you Jewish?” he asked.
“No, I’m afraid not,” I said.
“Oh, you have a Jewish face,” he replied. “Have a nice weekend.”
Jewish face? Me? Who knew? I’m sure the nuns in Catholic school would be surprised to hear this--not to mention my parents.
But then I’m also circumcised so it’s not just my face that looks Jewish. Maybe this guy wasn’t so meshuggah after all…
This little episode may sound strange to people in other parts of the world, but it was just one moment in a very long day I recently experienced in and around Grand Central, my favorite New York landmark.
The place is so beautiful and vibrant, but I can remember the days when the terminal had fallen into a serious decline.
Commuters virtually ran through the place to escape the filth and the panhandlers. However, it’s all so different now and I always tell tourists to make sure they visit the station while they’re in New York.
Now on this day I had departed from my usual schedule to attend a Very Important Meeting in midtown and I walked through Grand Central to get out of the cold and prepare for my meeting, which, as I mentioned, was very important. At least it was to me.
As I wandered through the station’s lower level, I could hear someone singing a series of Ray Charles’ hits. I parked my tuches on a bench in the lower level and I realized the singer, a very talented performed named Eunique Mack, was sitting on the other side of a nearby column.
This guy was good and I was soon humming along with the music when I should’ve been prepping for my meeting.
Oy to the World
He moved easily from Brother Ray to John Lennon and in a moment of exquisite timing, he began singing “Imagine” just as a crowd of commuters emerged from one of the platforms and began filling the station.
His voice served as a soundtrack for this busy scene and I briefly put my worries aside and imagined all the people living in the world in peace.
And then a rather disturbed man behind me started shouting “fuck you, you fuck!” at an invisible enemy. Yes, well, this is another track from the city’s hit list.
I got up to go to my Very Important Meeting as Eunique launched into “New York, New York” and it filled me with such confidence. Yes, I thought, if I can make it here, I really can make it anywhere.
However, I wasn’t going to be king of the hill or top of the heap on this day as my Very Important Meeting turned out to be a Colossal Waste of Time.
The people I was meeting with gave me such a runaround I almost plotzed.
What kind of fakakta outfit was this? I schlep all the way in here and you schmucks have the chutzpah to treat me like a schlemiel? Gay avek, the whole pack of you!
Sadly there are people who think nothing about leading you on and wasting your time, which is why it can be so hard to make it here.
When people yentz you like this, the best thing to do is put it behind you and make sure you don’t repeat their misdeeds.
I staggered back into Grand Central, shell-shocked from all the abuse. I was feeling quite fershlugina, I can tell you.
But I always cheer up when I walk through the terminal. This place triumphed over some pretty tough days and if that can happen for a building, it can happen for people, too. Just imagine.
I saw that Eunique had relocated to the tracks on the upper level where he was singing “Georgia.” The F-bomb Man had moved upstairs, too, but he was quiet now, having apparently dispatched his imaginary foe.
So I found no peace on this most pointless day. But at least I had a nice time in Grand Central and heard some good music and that was enough to put a smile on my Jewish face.