The single biggest difference I’ve noticed between Oakland and New York is the way people interact on the street.
It’s the strangest thing in the world to me. In a place where people are more physically close to each other than any other city I’ve ever been in, the psychological distance they keep from each other is ironically massive.
They don’t say excuse me. They don’t nod. No comments about the weather. It’s hard to even make eye contact with folks out here. Even when it seems like, to a West Coast kid like me, our eyes are locked directly upon one another, in the same instant I would prepare for an impending social interaction, the people of New York instead focus on maintaining a fixed stare that slides off of your gaze in a way that suggests they were never looking at you in the first place-you just happened to be in their line of sight for a brief moment.
I’m not upset by this as much as interested. It feels a little awkward to me right now, but I suspect when I reach that place of franticness that all New Yorkers seem to live in, I won’t have time for anything but cold stares either.
In the mean time though, I continue to look like the sweaty, naive fool that I am when I take a second to comment to my fellow commuter; “Boy, sure is hot today.”