I have, in my years living in New York, turned into a true New Yorker, to the extent that I look and act the part when out of doors. Something about the way I traverse the city—purposeful, distanced look in the eye, fast gait, a tendency to read the newspaper even while walking—flags me as a local. As a result, I get asked a lot of questions.
Summertime in Union Square brings out the visitors, and I have found myself giving directions more and more often. Often, I am walking my dog when I am stopped, which makes sense. On occasion I will be out solo and someone will just look at me and ask me to help find their destination. I am always happy to oblige.
But I was taken completely by surprise last week. Crossing Park Avenue South mid-block in traffic, a man in a Toyota called out from his car. It didn’t register that he was looking for me until he called out a second time. I doubled back to the driver’s window from the front bumper.
Him: “Do you know where the Toys ‘R’ Us is?”
Me, businesslike and without hesitation: “Next block up on the right.”
Him, unfazed: “Thanks, man.”
I made it across the street before the light turned. He took off, presumably to find a parking spot.
Jaywalker as information kiosk. Who knew?