Category Archives: Five Minute Observation

Five Minute Observation: Heels and Cab Driver Hatred

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to work as a taxi cab driver.

OK, I lied. I’ve thought about what it would be like to work as a taxi cab driver once. It was a moment of introspection born out of a harrowing and impressively athletic cab chase down the streets of New York’s Third Avenue.

On this particular occasion I was in the city for an interview, or so I thought. The interview ended up being more of a humiliating rejection session and impersonal cattle call that was made only slightly bearable by an arsenal of free tacos and strange beer. Before I embarked on my blind journey to hell I had already decided that I would take a cab there. The expense of the trip outweighed the likelihood that I would end up sweating, lost and covered in a film of gross feelings after taking a subway or bus. I was certain this would be easier.

I quickly found out that it was in fact not easier.

Everything started off great in terms of getting a cab to notice me. I reached out my gloriously large hands with marvelous technical proficiency and beckoned a yellow transportation vehicle. My calls were heard and one came barreling toward me.  Much to my surprise, the driver didn’t stop. He slowed down, took a hard look at me and then sped off. I was slightly offended, but chalked that cab request up to a misfire and threw my hand up for round two.

A second cab quickly followed, but also did not stop. Instead the driver slowly rolled passed me. As he did a soul-crushing realization that I was incompetent when it came to wooing cab drivers invaded my head. However, when he was about ten feet in front of me he rolled his passenger side window down and angrily hollered, “Where you going, girl?”

I was the only person around who had a vagina, so I took the liberty of assuming that his unnecessarily angry question was directed toward me. I’m not one to reciprocate rudeness, so I hustled to catch up with him. This proved to be difficult as he had continued to roll, which meant that I had to shuffle ahead alongside his car in a pair of remarkably uncomfortable heels.

In between breaths I choked out that I needed this fellow to take me to SoHo. He stopped abruptly. I tried to open the back door, but found that it was locked and that this cab driver was more of an asshole than I could have ever comprehended. I was unable to relay this thought to him due to the fatigue brought on by chasing a cab down the street in heels, so I poked my head around to the open window and gave him a moody look that said, “Let me in, bitch.” His response: “That’s out of my way.” He then sped off, leaving me standing on the streets of New York in a sweaty, irrationally angry mess.

At that point I thought about what it would be like to be a cab driver, but all I could think was that he better hope he doesn’t see me if I ever have tennis shoes on, especially if I’ve had a couple gin and tonics.

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Five-Minute Observation: Late-Night Coffee Drinkers

There’s something disheartening about being in a Starbucks when it’s dark outside. I’m not talking about the early morning dark, I’m referring to the 10 p.m. kind of dark. The time when there are only six or seven strange-ish people in the place. I’ve coined this time as the Starbucks witching hour, a time when the odd ones of the world convene for late-night caffeine.

I like coming at this time and making up reasons about why they are drinking coffee so late. Why do they need to stay up? I overwork scenarios in my head. Maybe they are about to rob a bank and need that crack-infused coffee to give them an extra surge of adrenaline. Or perhaps they have insomnia and have been sitting at the Starbucks for three days straight. Did something bad just happen to them? Something good? Probably not. After intense brooding the stories about these late-night coffee drinkers have the potential to become elaborately depressing.

I had conjured up one particularly distressing story about a gaunt older fellow sitting at a big table by himself (I swear not all of my stories are about Starbucks and old people). The man had bloodshot, unblinking eyes that stared blankly through everything in front of him. Looking at him made me hurt. Occasionally he would glance at me, or maybe through me, too, and I’d feign attention to my notebook. I’ll save you the outlandish details of my extensive story because it’s really too strange to repeat for the Internet. Just know that if I wasn’t afraid of being charged with senior citizen molestation I would have gotten up and given him a hug. It was that bad.

Then I heard the door open behind me. A man in his twenties shuffled past me and excitedly dropped a brown package in front of the old man. The young man wasn’t his son, but you could tell the old fellow thought of him as such. The old man’s red eyes softened with excitement and a wide smile overtook his blank expression. He eagerly opened the package and the two drifted away into their own world, a world that revolved around a different axis than the world everyone else was in. It revolved around the coffee they were drinking and the papers they were examining.

Something struck me. The witching hour isn’t a disheartening wrinkle in time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Maybe late-night coffee drinkers aren’t staying awake because they are real-life versions of Christian Bale in “The Machinist.” Maybe they are staying away because they’ll miss out on moments like the one between the old man and the young man if they are sleeping.

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Five-Minute Observation: Shall We Not Dance?

It’s no secret that I am helplessly inclined to be awkward. If it is a secret, it doesn’t stay that way for long, as my persistent awkwardness insists on revealing itself almost immediately upon coming in contact with another human being. Its evolution is unpredictable and mercurial, especially when it comes to dancing.

Unfortunately, while I have done a lot on the dance floor (slipped, stood and lost a small fortune worth of cell phones and loose dollar bills), I can’t think of a time that when I’ve ever actually danced with serious intentions. I usually just “joke dance”, which involves me doing “the sprinkler” and other 80’s-era dance moves. Sadly, it’s really not a joke because I still put a lot of mental and physical effort into these moves.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to dance normally, because I have. It’s just that for some reason, when I dance I look like a delirious penguin on LSD. No matter how hard I fight it, my body moves at awkward intervals that are completely independent from the rhythm of the music. What’s worse is that my perception of how I look when I dance is vaguely disconnected with the painful reality of what my body is actually doing. In my mind, I’m seducing the crowd with a sexy hip swivel but in reality, I look like a rusty Tin Man trying to unsubtly dislodge a wedgie without his hands.

A couple of my close friends here at SCAD hail from Puerto Rico. Said friends are more evolved when it comes to the art of dance and when they dance, they do it for reals and they look good. So, I was understandably apprehensive a couple of weeks ago when they suggested that we go to a local club to dance. I didn’t want to them to be embarrassed by me, but I knew my dancing limits so I figured I would just default to my joke dancing. However, after walking in and witnessing the seriousness with which the beautiful and scantily clad people there were getting their groove on, I soon realized this method wasn’t going to fly.

If ever there was a time to abuse alcohol, this was it. I went with my gut and started investing in several cups of rum, hoping that the calming effects of these spirits would simultaneously reduce my anxieties and help me find some sort of rhythm. Unfortunately, after five minutes of awkwardly swaying back and forth and running my massive hands through my tangled hair in what I imagine was not a sexy manner, I had effectively scared off everyone within a three-foot radius of me. At that point, I unintentionally became living proof that alcohol has no apparent positive effect on ones ability to look cool while dancing in a club with other people who are actually good dancers. I tried to do a real dance and I failed. I never felt nerdier, for lack of a better word. In my rum-fueled haze, I vowed that I would never try to dance seriously again and if the people around me didn’t like it then they were just going to have to deal with it. I marched right back onto the dance floor and did what I’ve always done on such a floor: I lost five dollars.

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