Some of the Ways New York City Will Kill You (Other Than Blizzards)

New York City is preparing for a blizzard, but there are so many other ways to die here. 

There is getting hit by a city bus, because everyone knows those drivers don’t obey the lights, won’t avoid pedestrians, and will run you down and drive off with your smashed head and mangled shoulders trapped in the grill, your loose entrails running along the undercarriage, your crumpled legs trailing behind, bouncing along the potholes like the old fashioned cans tied to the bumper of a newlywed’s car, leaving a rich smear of blood on the street. 

And taxis, of course, will lurch forward unexpectedly, blowing their horns at you as they belligerently mow you down, aiming to break both your legs and shouting at you and shaking their upraised fists while they steer towards you. 

There are also the saber-wielding food deliverers, on bicycles, cutting the air and swishing a brandished blade as they weave through the crowded sidewalks of midtown, racing to deliver a turkey wrap and a sugar-free Vitamin Water for which they will receive a $2 tip.

Midtown crosswalk

Anyone can perish from old age in New York, but the premature aging induced by trying to find a decent dry cleaner that won’t send your shirts back with mystery smudges is a hidden threat.
Look no further than the cauldron of magma, just below the pavement, hinting at its deadly presence by blowing steam up through the pavement; it will fry you to a crispy rind in a seconds.
The mannikins that liquefy the instant your back is turned and slither along  the ground like a great puddle of melted plastic, reforming into a killing machine just in time to issue a great karate chop to your torso? They slice you with their not-so-lifelike hands, because their fused fingers and flat palms are somehow the sharpest blades, and it doesn’t so much as hurt as it separates your body parts from each other as effortlessly as a hot knife through butter and you lay there wondering, “Was I really done in by a retail clothes dummy?”

Then, there are the wind gusts, strong enough to lift a person wearing a wool overcoat, laden with shopping bags 30 to 80 feet in the air, and dropping the person into a wooden water tank on top of a building, overcoat and shopping bags and all. In your next life you might practice removing a heavy wool overcoat under water. 

Any Icon parking garage is actually a prison of infinite concrete sadness, spiraling forever into the depths of a trans-dimensional void, not unlike Hell itself, but paved, and only $30 for a whole day (plus tip)!

The potholes have been known to actually hold land mines, set by Staten Island Separatists.

If you make eye-contact with an NYPD, it will lock onto you as its latest target, clamping its man-killing grasp around you, like a raptor’s grasp, really, because it, too, has to flex its muscles to open its grip; keeping its hands closed in a tight, angry fist is an effortless act for an NYPD.  And then it spins you into a neat tuck under its arm, commencing the  into the death-lock chokehold all NYPDs are famous for.  Don’t worry; you’ll be dead in an instant.

The shuffling subway zombies are easy to outrun, but the human grease smear they leave on the poles contains a flesh-eating-inspiring virus, penetrating any cuts or sores, and there is no known cure. Even a hangnail is a way in. Soon you will be craving brains, which might not be so bad, since you can find almost anything to eat in New York City, and you can have it delivered.

Every uniform-wearing doorman in Manhattan has a secret pocket for concealing a well-oiled and fully loaded machine gun, and as card-carrying members of the mafia, doormen are obligated to use that weapon if ordered to do so by an authority they recognize.

Beware drunken revelers since there are several well-documented cases of drunken mobs mistaking a stranger for an effigy, soaking the stranger in 4Loko, and setting them ablaze.

New York City’s puddles can actually kill you three ways. First, they are sometimes filled with acid, which will eat through your shoes and burn up your legs in seconds. Second, they are occasionally portals to a soul-stealing parallel universe where a doomed version of yourself will take your place in this reality if you see your reflection in the wrong puddle. Last, some say folks have died from the vomiting induced by just how nasty the puddles are.

There is also the Times Square unauthorized-costume Elmo, who dines on human souls.

And there is the classily suited assassin, who buys you a cosmo at a posh bar but slips in some poison and you die on the barstool in paroxysms of agony.

But, of course, the real way that New York City will kill you is by giving you blisters.

A Letter to the County Executive of Dutchess County, New York

The event I described happened in mid-July, and on that day I told the people I was with that I would write the sheriff and the county executive. They laughed. On a different day on that same stretch of road, my young horse spooked at a speeding garbage truck, dumped one of the barn’s professionals on the ground, and took off galloping back to the barn. He stopped and we were able to catch him.
Recent events all across the United States involving police remind me to encourage you, dear readers, to write letters to your local law enforcement and their bosses if you have an opinion about what you see them do. 

Out Hacking
Marcus J. Molinaro
County Executive
County of Dutchess
22 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Dear Mr. Molinaro:
Thank you for your kind letter welcoming me as a newly registered voter in Dutchess County. I look forward to participating in elections in my new rural community.
Recently, on a July weekday in the mid-afternoon on State Route XX in XXXXXX, I was out riding my horse on the road’s shoulder along with two other younger staff members of the barn where I ride. We were each wearing a helmet and riding a calm, older horse belonging to a private owner. An unmarked police vehicle approached and turned on its brightly colored lights and passed us, at an alarming speed. Because we are all experienced riders, we were able to calm our horses and continue; however, almost immediately the unmarked black police vehicle was joined by a marked Dutchess County Deputy Sheriff’s car, and passed us from the other direction at even greater speed.  Once again, we had to calm our horses and continue, which we did without further incident.
I have mulled over the encounter during the last couple of months and taken the time to confirm for myself that under Article 26 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 1146 a., “Every driver of a vehicle shall approach a horse being ridden or led along a public highway at a reasonable and prudent speed so as to avoid frightening such horse and shall pass the horse at a reasonable distance.”
I believe that the drivers of both police vehicles, though they may have been responding to an emergency, failed to obey this law, endangering the lives of three people and three horses.
Should any staff members of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s office be interested in learning about basic horse safety, the barn where I ride is a British Horse Society Certified facility, with highly educated and experienced instructors who would be able to provide basic lessons in horsemanship. I would think these skills would be useful throughout much of Dutchess County.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Out to Lunch

The point when I realized the A train wasn’t coming was after the third, loud and completely unintelligible announcement at the Chambers station. I turned to a guy next to me, and he said, “We gotta take the E,” and he started walking to the other end of the platform. I followed, but saw that I also had the option of the 2 or the 3, so I followed the signs through the labyrinth and got on an uptown 2.
“Next Stop, Chambers Street,” was what the announcement said, and then, “Stand clear of the closing doors.”
I had walked from the Chambers Street station of the A, C and E to the Park Place 2 and 3, and now I would be completing the triangle of no progress, more or less. I sat through the Chambers Street stop, and as the doors closed again, it said, “Next stop, 14th Street.”
I had wanted West 4th, which is a local stop on the red line, so I was going to overshoot my stop and be even later for my lunch date.
I don’t have many lunch dates in New York City, because I have about as many people to see for lunch as I have fingers on my left hand. Most New Yorkers have real jobs, too, so they don’t really have time for lunch. Not that I ever aspired to be someone who goes out to lunch all the time. Wasn’t that a thing, “Ladies Who Lunch?” Isn’t that something I never wanted to be?
Express trains are good for crying, because you aren’t interrupted by lots of people getting on and off, especially if you’ve had a rough morning, and a migraine pill, and some meanness you tried and failed to correct on Twitter.
I got out at 14th Street and headed to a southern exit onto West 13th Street. I made my way down two short blocks to West 11th and then made a bad turn and went two long blocks the wrong way. Asking Google maps where the restaurant was, I discovered I was now a half a mile from my destination, on foot. I called my friend, and she was very understanding, even about hating New York. “I don’t just want to live someplace else,” I said to her. “I want to burn the whole place down.”
She replied, “That’ll take some time.”


Lunch was brief and delicious and fun. I am grateful for my five fingers’ worth of New York City friends, even if I’ve borrowed them from other people or from other lifetimes. She directed me, squaring my shoulders even, and pointed me back to the 1. Even I can get the 1 right. It’s a local train.
On the platform I was asked by a confused and distraught traveller how to get on the 2 or the 3 going uptown. I explained that he could go out and up and cross the street and go down and swipe again or get on this train and switch at another station. As I did this, my train arrived, and as I stepped towards it the doors closed for it to leave.
Make no mistake: New Yorkers in general are helpful and kind and will give directions and shortcuts. But in an urban area with 17.8 million people, even if only 1% of them are complete assholes, that makes 178,000 complete assholes, and some of them might drive subway trains.
On impulse, I tossed my jacket between the closing doors of the subway train, the way you might interrupt the closing doors on an elevator. This is a stupid, dangerous thing to do because doors in New York City subway trains don’t work the way they do on elevators. They close on your coat or your bag or your hair or your purse or your arm, and then the train leaves. The driver had seen me helping that other passenger and saw me do the jacket toss, too. The door opened and I got on.
The other people already on the car might have had faces filled with concern or scorn or derision or relief, but I don’t know because I didn’t look at them. I focused on my phone and played Bejeweled, because no one needs scolding by strangers, and especially not today.
When I got off the subway, I was looking forward to a quiet afternoon writing in the apartment. From the 1 to our apartment it’s only a few blocks, and those blocks aren’t the most unpleasant in TriBeCa. As I walked, I fired off a couple of tweets about the subway train driver’s incivility and how I almost sacrificed my jacket to the 1 train, and I found myself distracted by a man standing on the curb, half-facing me, pantomiming pecking at an imaginary phone in his hand and making terrible creepy cheeping noises.  He said something derisive in his heavily French-accented English.
If my phone came with a flame-thrower app, I might be in jail right now.

A Letter to the Pedestrians of New York City

The umbrella you will lose anyway

Dear Citizens,
We can all agree that it was raining this evening, and lightning was seen from some parts of the city. At times the downpour was strong. Those of us who paid careful attention to the forecast may have been more prepared for the rain than those of us who did not.
Nevertheless, I would like you to consider giving up your umbrellas.
First, in the interest of public safety, consider the eyes that will go un-poked-out when you no longer stab passersby in the face. Give a thought to the unsprained ankles dangling there on the legs of the people who will no more need to dive out of your, unseeing way. Think on the empty lost-and-found shelf of your favorite restaurant, the library, and the subway, no longer required to store your forgotten umbrellas.
Next, know that your second hand is henceforward free! Now you can carry your lunch, your handbag, your gym bag, your groceries, your WNYC bag full of library books, your briefcase, your tool box, and your huge and heavy shopping bag full of new sheets from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
You will not dissolve in the rain, New York. Lift your eyes from the pavement and let the raindrops land on your eyelashes. Allow the rain to run down your cheeks. Feel the mile traveled by earth’s evaporated water from the surface of the earth up into our atmosphere and back. Welcome those raindrops back to earth.
You will not dissolve.
Yours truly,
New New Yorker
(Recent Transplant from Seattle)