Thursday, February 7, 2013
Today I went down to 4th street to get a replacement social security card. We happened to leave behind a whole lot of important paperwork in California locked away in our storage unit. Anyway, the Social Security office closes at 4 and I got there too late, so I hopped back on the A to head home. I boarded a really crowded car and had to balance my mail (a package!) and purse and work clothes and self, so when a seat opened up I seized the opportunity! While I was standing waiting for a seat to open, I had been absentmindedly watching an old man open a bag of banana chips, pour them into a zip lock bag and then eat his snacks. I wondered if he packed them for himself or if he had a wife or child who packed them for him. The man had long eyebrows. And he wore a khaki coat and had a bag where he kept his banana chips. The seat that opened up happened to be the seat right next to him and the moment I sat down he turned to me and said "Would you like one?". Now I know, you're all thinking don't talk to strangers, don't accept food from strangers (I didn't), run away, etc. But I knew that he was sweet! So I politely told him no thank you, that I wasn't hungry, but thank you very much for the offer. He asked me if I knew what he was eating. Banana chips? I asked. He told me that he was eating Plantain chips, a snack he loved to eat in the Dominican Republic. He said that was one of the only things he loved about the dominican republic, the other three things being his two daughters and the fresh delicious sea food. He does not like fish from New York because he said that even if it says it is fresh, it has been frozen. He told me about plantains, that he likes them boiled and mashed with onion, or cut thick, fried, pounded thin like a pancake and then fried again. He said he loves being in New York and that he loves the energy of the city. I agreed. He told me about how he traveled all over the world, and that when his tourist visa ran out last November he decided to go to Paris instead of going back to the Dominican Republic. He told me that he was on his way home from the doctor, that he had just two hours before had laser surgery in his eye for glaucoma. He still had a sharpie mark on his cheek from it. He told me that he thinks his dietary changes (not being able to/wanting to eat New York fish) had something to do with his eye problems. He told me he loved the place where he lived because he was on the sixth floor, and so were a whole lot of musicians. He told me he loved sitting in his room and listening to them practice. He told me that he loves to meet people in New York and that he has already met a couple of his talented neighbors. He told me about Elia Kazan. He told me that people in New York are more friendly than people in Paris. He told me he works on appliance installation, that he likes working with his hands. It so happened that we had the same subway stop, so he walked me to the top of the escalator where Casey was waiting for me, shook Casey's hand, told me his name was Francisco and told us perhaps we would meet again, and then he disappeared down 181st. I wish I had taken his picture so you could see him.