This morning, a woman ambled out of the bus and onto the sidewalk in front of me without checking to make sure she wasn’t cutting anyone off. I wasn’t in a hurry, but she was walking so-o-o-o-o-o slowly that I couldn’t bear to match her snailish pace. She walked in the middle of the sidewalk, though, not leaving room to pass her on either side. Just as I was stepping off the sidewalk and into the street to get around her, she decided to cross right in the middle of the street, cutting me off again. I was like, “Ohhhhh, no,” and excused myself as I sped around her, hoping she’d notice what a dick she was being but realizing she probably wouldn’t.
And I realized then that that’s the thing I really hate about New York. I can deal with tiny apartments that cost twice what whole houses do elsewhere, and it’s worth it to have to brave subway altercations to not have to drive anywhere, and I’ve learned to cope with having to shop at three different grocery stores because a single one isn’t big enough to carry everything I need.
But I can’t stand feeling like I’m invisible. When that woman stepped in front of me not once but twice, I wanted to yell at her, “DO YOU SEE ME?” When I’m crossing in front of someone and she’s crossing in front of me, and I hang back a second and let her go ahead because she’s wearing some five-inch heels and I realize that my life is much better than hers, and she doesn’t acknowledge me, I want to yell at her, “DO YOU SEE ME?” Or when everyone is waiting in a line to go up the stairs from the subway platform, and one guy comes from the back and cuts right in front of me, I want to tap him on the shoulder and yell at him, “DO YOU SEE ME?”
It’s like the episode of “South Park”, a riff on the movie Manhunter, where the killer ties Cartman to a chair, Clockwork Orange style, and shows the boy a projector slideshow so Cartman can see “all the things he has done”. You think the killer means all of the murders he’s committed, but the slides are all of the man at the Grand Canyon, at Niagara Falls. “DO YOU SEE?” the killer asks as each slide is displayed.
Because my being invisible has to be the reason for these crimes against humanity, right? The only other explanation is that these people somehow think they’re more important than I am, that they have somewhere more pressing to be. And maybe this is why people get mean living here. How many times can someone step in front of you just as the train arrives before you start doing it back?