Tag Archives: shopping

unofficial rules of holiday shopping in the city

it’s tourist season and midtown is over flowing with shoppers, sight-seers, celebrity seekers and tree gazers!

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it’s a good thing for the city – not so much for the residents.  from december through january things become all discombobulated for the locals because tourists disrupt the flow.  it’s nothing that can’t be fixed and it’s not even their fault. they are simply unaware of a few simple things. when travelling into the city, i’ve noticed that at the bridge & tunnel tolls, it’s always the cars with out of state plates in the ‘cash only’ lanes – the regulars have ez-pass.  i’m thinking that a small list of “instructions” printed on the back of the bridge & tunnel receipts would be a great invention because it could list the rules and then they would know.   since that’s not the case, i will post them here.

rule #1
don’t think – just cross the street.

crossing the street in midtown is similar to participating in a game of football. there are two sides, face to face, waiting for the ‘go ahead.’ the difference is that in midtown, each team has anywhere from 25 – 50 people on each side where in football, there are only 11 on each side.  during the months of february through november, when the light says walk, the ‘teams’ advance towards each other and effortlessly manage to get to the other side of the street without knocking into anyone. they’re used to it; they don’t get nervous and foot traffic just flows. on the other hand, in december and january,  i believe that during the 2-3 minute wait between light changes, tourists get super focused on the opposing team which makes them nervous.  their brain begins to wonder how they will manage to cross the street through all those people about to charge towards them, and they begin to map out a strategy.  as soon as the light changes, they follow their mind map.  because they could never predict the mind maps of the opposing team, it turns into a giant cluster of frustrated people bumping into each other, scared they will never reach the other side safely. weird but true.

rule# 2

when you see a pretty store window, something shiny that catches your eye or a homeless person, do not just stop in the middle of the sidewalk.  this causes mid-sidewalk collisions and then you leave the city thinking ny’ers are rude.

rule #3

wear your comfy flat walking shoes or you will regret it.  and know that the people in the flat comfy walking shoes are the ones who must walk on the grates. women in heels have the right of way on the sidewalk whenever a grate presents itself.  there is no need to worry about falling through the grates and landing in the pathway of an oncoming subway, seriously.

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It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.
 ~ Buddha



enlightenment in the supermarket

every once in a while one of the cashiers at food emporium will say hello to me. usually not. one customer seems to run into the next like one continuous order of groceries. i sometimes wonder if i will return home with someone else’s toothpaste because it became part of my order in the continuous line of groceries moving along the belt. then i worry that i will have to check the receipt and see if i was charged for the toothpaste. i am sure i will not discover the toothpaste until i get home and then i will have to go back to the store, wait in the customer service line with someone else’s toothpaste and my receipt showing the charge and fill out all kinds of paperwork in order to get my money back.

i wonder if i will be able to load my groceries on to the moving belt and get the ‘food emporium club membership card’ out of my wallet before the cashier is done scanning my items and it becomes too late.  i get concerned when i am swiping my credit card and the cashier has already began scanning the next person’s groceries and i still have to enter my pin #  and then answer some questions like “is this the correct amount?, would you like cash back?”   the person behind me is anxiously waiting for me to finish as her groceries  come crashing into my shopping bags that are still sitting at the end of the beltway. I still have to wait for the final verification before i can press enter and her groceries are coming down the belt at an alarming rate. i start collecting my bags to make room.  it is usually right about then that the ‘verification’ message finally pops up on the machine and the cashier, who already seems a little annoyed that i am not yet gone from the store, reaches her hand over to the swiping machine and without even looking, her index finger manages to find the big green ‘enter’ button and verifies my card for me.

this week was different.  as i stood in line, i watched the cashier graciously greet the person in front of me.  she mindfully scaned each item with a slight smile. she actually informed the customer what the total order came to an patiently waited for the woman to hand her cash. the cashier returned the change with a smile, bowed her head to the customer and proceeded to very carefully place the groceries into the bag.  she then quietly thanked the customer, gently handed over the bags, and bowed her head slightly once more.  this cashier had an aura of peace and contentment. you couldn’t help but to notice her equanimity. she was different from the rest in a most beautiful way.  i was next and i couldn’t wait to meet her.

she smiled and said ‘hello’ with deliberate eye contact.  with her steady slight smile she scanned my items one by one. i knew there was no need to worry about the condition of my eggs as they were gently placed at the end of the belt.  her name tag read, tenzen  –  the same name as the dali lama!   i asked her where she was from. she looked up and quietly said “tibet.”

she spoke perfect english in a quiet manner with a tibeten accent. i had so many questions. . .

tenzen escaped tibet by foot. it took one month for her to reach nepal. from nepal she travelled to new york city. there was no way i could take the time to ask all the questions i had. i told her i would get in her line again next time i came to food emporium to ask her more.  her smile broadened as she handed me my bag.  she bowed her head and thanked me.  i bowed my head and thanked her back.

tenzen seemed grateful to be a cashier in food emporium on 1st avenue and 72nd street where she is raising the vibration of each person in her presence.  there is much to be learned here.



“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”