By Charles Morgan III
I spent a week in New York City earlier this month, waiting for my daughter to have a baby. Leah and Matt had a beautiful baby boy named Oliver. It was all perfect.
My role in the process was to offer emotional support, and for the most part stay out of the way. So I did what I do best which is a sort of structured manner of wandering around.
Both my daughters, Leah and Jane, have lived in New York for years. Sometimes they humor me by exploring the city, them leading the way and me lumbering behind.
You can wander all you want in that city and never get bored. What is most remarkable about New York and is the most impressive aspect of an amazing city is the nature of how in the world it seems to work.
The population is 8.6 million people and they comprise every ethnic and religious group known to man, and I’m sure some groups that are unknown. In my experience everyone seems to get along, or at least they’re so busy they don’t have time to cause trouble.
The city is our country’s epicenter of the world of theater, art, music, literature, finance, food and more.
Every type of cuisine is offered in New York restaurants and grocery stores. There are restaurants that serve food from countries I’ve never even heard of. The availability of the food itself is remarkable. Hunts Point Market covers 60 acres and is the largest in the world. Meats, seafood, vegetables and fruit from around the world are sold 24 hours a day.
The infrastructure is aged, but everything seems to work. The traffic is primarily comprised of taxis and Uber type stuff. There are tremendously brave bicycle delivery guys. The subways are packed. Food deliveries to restaurants are made in the early morning. Pedestrians are everywhere.
You hear about crime in New York. I’ve never seen any, and I’m always looking. You can smell marijuana on almost every block, but I don’t think that’s even illegal. I wouldn’t be surprised if more DUIs are issued in Okaloosa County than in all of New York City. People definitely drink there, but almost no one drives a car.
There are some homeless people and panhandlers, but I’ve seen more of that in college towns.
The people on the sidewalk might not be as outwardly friendly as people in the South, but it might be because they all seem really busy and in a hurry to get where they’re going.
There are lots of differences between New York and Destin, where I’ve lived most of my life. But there are some similarities. On a per capita basis, I’m afraid New York has us beat.
You hear about crime in the big city. We’ve got crime, too. All kinds. Read the papers.
The infrastructure in New York is aging and crumbling. We’ve got problems with our infrastructure, too. We have worse traffic even though we’re constantly reengineering our streets. How do you manage a sewer system for 8.6 million people? We can’t seem to handle sewage for 13,000. I can’t get a cell phone signal at my house.
They’ve got pedestrians and cyclists. You’ve got to be a lunatic to try either on our streets. Deaths per capita involving cyclists and walkers are ridiculously lower in New York.
They’ve got us beat on neighborhoods. We hardly have any true neighborhoods. There are about 100 in Manhattan alone.
They crush us when it comes to percentage of the population that is obese. They’re skinny up there. If you’re heavyset, good luck getting a seat in a restaurant.
We’ve got them beat on jet skis, pontoon boats, and t-shirt shops.
But enough about comparisons.
The people in New York that I care most about live in Greenwich Village, across from Washington Square Park on a tree-lined street. They live in a second floor apartment that might be 700 square feet.
I went up there to welcome a grandson. Oliver weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Matt and Leah and Oliver are all perfect. As far as I’m concerned, as special as New York is, on December 15th it became even more wonderful.