Friday, December 26, 2008

A Hush Over NYC

You didn't ask me, but I'm at the office today. I'm one of two staff people on the entire 7th floor of my building. It's so quiet up here that you can actually hear the hum of the building itself. It's both spooky and lonely.

As is the city today.

I walked the 7 blocks to the "F" station at 8th Ave and 9th Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn this morning to catch the subway into Manhattan and I didn't pass a soul on the street. My dry cleaner was open though and I dropped off some clothes and chatted with the family that runs the place and played with their new Pug puppy for awhile.

When I got to the subway station, the subway platform was empty. It looked like one of those long shots you see in films set in NYC. Just silence and a narrow, endless, empty platform. Weird.

Had I slept through some horrible event that wiped out most of the population?

On the subway itself there were just a handful of people headed to work - not a suit among them either - all looked like working class folks from the far reaches of Brooklyn.

When I arrived at my stop in Manhattan it too was virtually deserted - and when I ascended the stairs into daylight it was like how post-nuclear New York City is always depicted in films - empty, no cars, no people, no sounds.


This time of year always sees a mass exodus of people from the island. It seems to me that the official start to this exodus begins shortly after Thanksgiving and ends on the first Tuesday after New Year's - gets longer every year.

But this year's empty streets are not only a sign of
the still well-heeled heading to St Bart's, or by regular folks heading home to see their families for the holidays, but also by the huge numbers of the newly unemployed who used to walk these streets each day.

But not this year.

I'm pretty ambivalent about the holidays this year. My wife had to work on Christmas Day which was a major bummer, but we managed to squeeze in a wonderful night of gift giving and cheer on Christmas Eve and then have a great dinner by candlelight after she got home on Christmas Day.

But while I was enjoying my good fortune, I couldn't help think about the nearly 200,000 people forecast to lose their jobs in NYC by the end of the year. Or about the thousands of people - the homeless, the working poor, the elderly, children, the handicapped and sick - who cannot access food on a daily basis.

The city is eerily quiet today for lots of reasons. And it makes me think of what it would be like if the sounds of our daily routines were suddenly and significantly interrupted for good.

And I fear we are very close to something resembling that. And I fear hundreds of thousands of people will be significantly and negatively impacted.

So today, while I ponder the City's emptiness, I've decided to contact the Food Bank For NYC and see how I can help.

The Food Bank For New York City
is the city's major hunger-relief organization - working to end food poverty and increase access to affordable, nutritious food for low-income New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs. There are more than three million New Yorkers who have difficulty affording food — an astounding number and one that continues to increase as the donated food supply drops to an all-time low and energy and fuel costs skyrocket.

But the good news is that the Robin Hood Foundation has just announced a matching grant to the Food Bank.

If you give $1.00 Robin Hood will give $2!

Won't you join me?

Thanks. Maybe it will help make the City feel a little less lonely.