Feb Photo 4 – Stranger
Again, not a photo I took today, however this photo has always been a favourite of my time in NYC, for reasons I cannot explain.
This was taken when crossing over 6th Ave. near W38th St. and was completely random, simply point and shoot, no composition, no thought beyond capturing the wide empty streets. What I got was a random image of some unknown people crossing the road, unaware I was taking their photograph, and probably not caring either.
Strangers surround us every day. On the streets, in our workplace, as we do our grocery shopping. Where did they come from? Where are they going? What are the thinking? This is what makes them strangers.
In Melbourne, it is not such a big deal to ask someone for the time, for directions, or even make small-talk whilst waiting for a tram or a train. In New York, this is something that is almost alien to the locals. Asking a New Yorker what the time is will only be returned by a scowl, obscenities, or more often, being totally ignored. In New york, it is almost a survival method to ignore the people around you. This not only allows the locals to get to where they are going quicker, but also means that they won’t be hustled by other locals.
My first few days there, I was in the Melbourne mentality, and stopped to listen to most people who asked me a question on the street. I was hustled many times. It is hard to explain, but the local hustlers here in Melbourne are much nicer and less forceful than the New Yorker ones. Long story short, I ended up with 3 demo CDs, 2 sightseeing bus tours that never showed up, and -$5 for taking a photo of busker on a train. Lesson Learnt.
After a few days, I adopted the New Yorker way. My hands stayed in my pockets, eyes down and walking at a steady pace, I managed to get through Times Square in 3 minutes. No hustlers. I had now learnt the reason why there are more strangers in New York.
Remember, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet…