I recently started reading “The Facebook Effect” by David Kirkpatrick. I couldn’t help it, after attending TechCrunch Disrupt (a 3-day technology-related event I attended a few weeks ago) where he and Sean Parker talked about the book, where many speakers from Facebook spoke, and most importantly, where I heard the word “Facebook” in every second sentence. It’s a pretty great book really, for anyone interested in technology, social networks or entrepreneurship. Did you know that when Facebook started in Harvard and expanded to the Ivy Leagues, other colleges bribed Mark Zuckerberg with flowers and candy to expand the network to their schools?
Anyway, to save time in the day, I try reading on the subway. However, everytime I travel without a book, I realize that traveling isn’t a waste of time at all. Observing people can fulfill your daily dose of entertainment. Here’s why:
A sneak peak of Manhattan subway-goers:
#1: The New Woman
This is your classic, independent New Yorker woman. She is proud of her achievements, and work is her life. When she gets married, hopefully by age 50, she will make more money than her husband. She is perfect in every way, with straight long hair, carefully applied make-up, long, polished nails, smooth curves, and fashionable clothes. Most important, however, are her 5-inch high stilletos. She can run in and out of the train, race through the subway stairs, and do all other sorts of acrobatic tricks in them. (Me? I struggle even walking without tripping over myself in my half-inch pathetic excuses for platforms.)
#2: The i-Banker
This is the busynessman who wears his suit everywhere he goes. He is inseperable from his Smart phone even on a subway train where there is no signal – especially since Smart phones are great for everything except, you know, the basic functions of high signal strength and recieving calls. But I digress. He is well-groomed and satisfied. But he is also cursing himself for his string of one-night-stands that force him to rely on such lowly means of transportation.
#3: The Crazies
People in this category have the funky dyed hair that sticks out in all directions, body piercings on any and all face-parts, and huge tattoos covering every inch of exposed skin. They wear anything ranging from tights that are torn in all places, to short skirts with hooker-type stockings, to, well, nothing. I will also classify those engaging in inappropriate acts of PDA with themselves and with others in this group.
#4: The Diva
This group consists of the incredibly talented, the incredibly untalented, and the whack-jobs. That’s right – these are the ones that provide entertainment for subway goers by singing, dancing or playing an instrument. Many are truly amazing and can lift your spirits on a gloomy day. On West 4th street in particular there are 2 people who use paint cans as drums and play music that sounds really professional. The beat is so catchy that I often see people dancing and bobbing their heads to the music. Their expression immediately changes to one of pretend-boredom when they notice someone watching them. Other entertainers are, however, downright creepy. Travelers, be warned.
#5: The Mama
This is the group that I have the most respect for. It’s the lone-moms who handle their 5 or more crazy children. The children, I’ve noticed, always try to feed the youngest different kinds of junk when the mother isn’t looking. The mother keeps oscillating between smiling at her adorable creations and raging with anger at the nuisance they themselves create.
#6: The Regulars
And finally, we have the plain category – “normal.” This group consists of commoners that no one cares about, like you and me.
Of course, you will also find everyone and everything else between these categories.
And speaking of normal, I must illustrate a very not-normal situation I faced sometime ago at a networking event. I met a young man who was very intrigued to hear that I was from India, and he told me about his own adventures at the Taj Mahal. Of course, this made me feel some sort of subconcious national pride. As I was leaving, as per protocol, I asked him for a business card. What does he give me instead?
Barack Obama *HOPE* flavored condoms – Stay Safe? Yes We Can!
I stared at him in disbelief. Really? REALLY?
Because that’s what his company does. Because you cannot just hope. And because today’s irresponsible youth really needs to learn.
On my way home, I left it on the subway, hoping that someone else would make better use of it – such as the crazies, the divas, or..the i-bankers.