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Working for New York

Working for New York

July 12, 2019 10:45 pm0 comments

I was walking to work this morning and made my way into one of those scaffolding tunnels. I heard a sound and looked up and realized the tunnel was still under construction, and above me a laborer was standing on the framing coaxing a steel girder into place.

The first thing I thought, after “that’s gonna fall on someone’s head and these guys are gonna get their asses sued” was that, at that exact moment, I was surrounded in all directions by people at work.

I realized that any given day in the city there work, day in and day out, subway attendants and transit cops in the caverns below me, white collar types and temps and janitors in the high rises above me, shopkeepers and sous chefs and taxi drivers and priests and baristas and pharmacists and teachers and garbage collectors in the stones and bricks and windows and streets and alleys and nooks and crannies of the city all around me.

Then I looked around and saw the commuters just like me on the sidewalks, the finance and legal types with their dark suits, the techies with their white AirPods, the personal trainers busting out of their gym logo emblazoned T-shirts, and every other type of hard working New Yorker the city has blessed us with, even if they aren’t doing it for the money: the volunteer workers picking up trash in the park, the Hare Krishnas handing out their flyers, the Boy Scout troop on their way to the Intrepid Museum, the college students rushing to the morning class they never should have signed up for.

When you are in a city at work, the work is happening all around you at all times. It imbues the pavement with a mythical quality where power and wealth and excitement is felt with every footstep, the energy of people being productive and getting better and trying harder.

This is not the way it is everywhere. Not everyone is so lucky to live in a place with so much work, so many possibilities. People often get stuck in towns without jobs and can’t leave because family obligations or technology or cost makes it impossible. Those of us who live in a city at work often don’t even realize that we’re the fortunate ones.

Being in a place like New York City where you can live and work every day with millions of complete strangers, all pulling their weight together, is a true privilege, and every time I take the time to observe the city around me I appreciate it even more. I work for NYC, and NYC works for me.

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