Now that the cold weather has set in, I can no longer sit in Bryant Park in the mornings prior to beginning work. Gone are the days, at least for almost a year, when I can sip my coffee under a warm and bright sun and watch the early birds enjoy the beginning of a new Summer day.
Even at 9am, there were already tourists in the park, snapping away with their cameras, sitting in circles on the lawn, while the pigeons and birds enjoy an abundance of food. Other office workers stopped and took in the sun. It is a morning ritual repeated throughout the city in cafes, public parks, church yards and in those office building promenades that fail miserably in their intended purpose. There is a need for people to flush their pyschologic drains before they face the withering fire of the new workday.
But in these cold months, people trot across the park like it was a place of contagious diseases. Most benches are empty. The trees stand tall and cold like condemned criminals waiting to be shot. The birds no longer sing but hop around peripatically, looking for an overlooked seed or bread crumb. Only the park employees in their drab olive green uniforms remain. They have no choice.
I found my sanctuary, a deli, on East 42nd street, not too far from the library. It has a mezzanine that provides warmth, spartan furniture, and ample opportunity for people-watching from the balcony. This place isn't exactly The Ritz, but it will do. The floor begged for a scrubbing; the counter tops chipped. The trash bin needed emptying. The general atmosphere suggested that people mind their own business.
From my perch, I observed the stream of hungry people below. Crowds came in, harried, often shoulder-bumping each other without anyone taking offense. Many beelined for the breakfast meats; others queued for the steaming, industrial-sized coffee percolators. All were oblivious of the voyeur upstairs.
I must say that I am dismayed by the number of people who wanted their bacon and egg, their sausage and egg sandwiches. They saw food as food. Nothing more to it, but food. I could see it in their faces and their body language. Most people do not relate their meat to an animal. They look for nourishment, to fill their maw, and their intentions and understanding end there. It would be an ethereal concept for the meateaters to relate meat with ethics. Yet, that isn't truly difficult to understand. The equation can be made easily. It is just a matter of changing a bad habit, guided by one's conscience. Sadly, we, as a civilized society, have a long way to go.
Photo Credit: FreakingNews.com