The thing I've noticed about New York is it is a city of extremes. I've never seen such humbling kindness from strangers toward me and my family; nor have I seen such hostility. And Bill made an interesting observation: It seems that those who work at chain places you could find anywhere (see: Target, McDonalds) are the embittered and angry, and those who work in generational corner shops are always so excited to be of service and are the ones who comment on how beautiful my children and red hair are.
In my experience, this has been true.
One of my favorite ways to beat the heat is to get out of the sweltering apartment, jump on the air-conditioned subway (aaah) to various parts of the city, find the local McDonalds and treat the kids to an inexpensive ice cream cone.
But in very stark contrast to our favorite ice-cream place back home (Chic-fil-a, how I miss your unwavering optimism!), instead of greeting us with smiles, the employees of every single McD's I've been to, here, look at me as I approach the register with daggers in their eyes. It's as if they can't believe I'd impose upon their day with my three sniveling tourist children. They don't greet me, instead I have to fumble a guess as to when it's appropriate to state my order. They don't respond. Instead, the amount of money I owe shows up on the register, and they stare at me expectantly.
The exception, of course, is Trader Joes. I had a very pleasant conversation with my checker the first time I was there. The second time, I had Wyatt with me, and he got a WHOLE STRIP of Joe's stickers. He was on cloud nine for days - and has been begging to go back.
The New York local places, though, are delightful! I think one of my new favorite things is a New York local doting on my children with their thick accent and sometimes colorful language.
Our favorite place when we get to treat ourselves to lunch is Schnippers on 42nd street.
We can feed our entire family for $15, which is a great deal for a family of five anywhere, but for New York it's pretty much a miracle. Schnippers is big - which is a relief in the usually crowded state of things, here - and it's air conditioned to the point of almost being chilly. LOVE!
Also, there are huge windows. So while we enjoy a warm meal in a cold building, we get to people watch. And not just people watch - but people watch on 42nd street.
I've learned to get around New York on my own with the kids. I brought a 3 kid stroller with me - a Joovie we call "The Beast" - but it was IMPOSSIBLE to push even in a straight line. Forget about up and down the subway stairs, or onto the subway itself. So we parked The Beast and opted for this beauty (which my mom and I assembled in the corner of Target right after we bought it):
I love this stroller. I call it "Freedom".
It's so smooth and easy to push. I can even get it up and down the subway stairs with Hank inside by myself. This is KEY.
And it functions as a double stroller more often than not.
I'm learning to navigate the subway systems by memory instead of being tethered to my iphone - which is good because the tall buildings of New York are really throwing Siri off. She can't figure out WHERE we are most of the time, and our little blue blinking dot on the screen scampers frantically about while Siri panics and mentally implodes.
There is a quick learning curve (sometimes more of a curb), and we are learning at the pace of the city. There have been a few moments of panic - but we are surviving.
(If only we could figure out where we're going to live, next!)