Thursday, February 08, 2007

Can I get commissions for this?

I'm not sure why it is, but there is not a single day that passes that I am not asked by a stranger for directions. There have been days I'm out with the dog at 3:00 a.m. and it occurs to me that nobody has asked for my help all day. Wow! Is this the day I am NOT asked for directions? Sure seems like it... then *boom* out of thin air, on an empty street at 3:01 a.m. someone is asking me "which way is 2nd Avenue?" I smile. I point them in the correct direction. And I realize that this is just a thing with me. Every single day. Even if it's that late in the day, someone gets in there. It seems I have a cosmic quota. Who knew?

I don't really mind it. It's actually become a tiny source of amusement for me. How many today, when will it happen, will I actually know the answer. Usually it is one per day, though I have had banner days with up to 4 (usually around holidays), and almost always I do know the answer. This is the most absurd aspect of Joy as Tour Guide: I have absolutely no sense of direction and I can get lost if I go west of Fifth Avenue. I mean totally dead lost. It's pathetic. Yet when I am stopped for directions or information or whatever, I almost always know the answer to the poor lost soul's query. It's like I become a walking Ouija board - I just somehow know.

How is that possible?

Ya got me.

Of course as with most fortune telling 'gifts' this does not work for my benefit, only for others. If only it would - I wouldn't get lost going to places I've been to already and should KNOW how to find.

I often feel I have a neon sign on my forehead that says "I can help, ask me how!" Because I know my body language and facial expression is usually "GET LOST"... but for some reason the sign wins out and the questions keep a-coming.

It's not that I mind helping out when people are lost or disoriented on the subway or whatever, in fact I like it. It makes me feel useful and like I'm somehow contributing to the "New Yorkers are REALLY nice" stories that tourists can take home with them. I once had a Japanese woman asking for directions on the subway. She didn't speak but 4 words of English and I speak... sushi. But she was going to the same place as me! So she just stayed close, I pointed and it worked out.

But I do find it odd. I mean I have been standing next to police officers on a corner and someone will ask me where they are rather than the more logical choice of the uniformed public assistant. What's that about? It's the sign, of course. Neon trumps uniforms. Always.

But it's not just the directions. It's chit-chat. For a long time I thought this happened to everyone. I really am sort of oblivious sometimes. I'm one of these, if it happens to me it must happen to everyone, if I know it, it must be common knowledge types. I just find it shocking that I know things that other people don't or that things happen to me that other people don't experience on a regular basis. But I'm finally getting it. For some reason I will probably never understand, I'm a walking magnet. I get the talkers, I get the questions, I attract the nuts.

Just this afternoon for example.

I'm doing my laundry. Yes, the steroids seem to be helping. Still have tingling, but it seems to be a little less frequent (yay!!) so I decided it was time to stop dipping into the goofy Halloween and Christmas socks and do some laundry. Really, when you have to go to the doctor wearing sparkling green socks because nothing else is clean... it's time to pull out the quarters and Tide and get some washing done. So today was the day.

As I'm pulling stuff out of the dryer this little old lady comes by and it appears she wants to go from the back of the laundromat to the front. This means I'm blocking her way (narrow laundry) so I shift from the front of the dryer to the side to let her pass.

"Oh I'm not passing", says she. "I just wanted to look."

Silly me. I thought the fact that she was practically rubbing shoulders with me meant she wanted to get by, not that she wanted to snuggle.

Okay, so she wants to look out the laundry's front window, or so I thought that's what she meant.


Little Miss Sunshine wanted to LOOK AT MY LAUNDRY!

Okay, now seriously, what is that about? Nut magnet. Just like I said.

But I guess I encourage it somehow. I let her watch me take my laundry out of the dryer (whatever thrill that may have given her) and then we had a little chat. Yes. See, I guess I do encourage it. We discussed my enormous heavy coat. This coat I wear seems to be a big topic of conversation every where I go, so I'm used to it. Once I was at the theater with a friend and a woman actually came over to me, interrupting our conversation and asked about the coat. It's reversible. I gave a demonstration. My friend cracked up.

"I can't believe you just did that!" she said.

"I'm used to it," I replied. And continued where we'd left off.

So the Sunshine Lady at the laundromat enjoyed my clean socks, my coat and apparently our little chat. It's what I do. I don't get paid for it... damn... but it gives me a chuckle.

Though for the life of me I'll never understand it.

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