Uncommon Courtesy

Excuse who?

a heavy crowd

Recently I was at a gala. Some galas are full of pomp and circumstance and, let's face it, pretension. This gala wasn't like that, although it could have been. Celebrating dance as showcased by filmmakers, there were plenty of movers and shakers in attendance, both literal and figurative. Yet, the atmosphere was warm, relaxed and lighthearted.

So maybe it was more of a "New York thing" that people bumped each other continually as they moved about the room. New York does not have the market cornered on spatial awareness deficits, but the city is crowded and body-to-body collisions are frequent occurrence... so much so that more often than not, people don't even say, “excuse me” or “pardon”. They simply behave as if the contact never happened.

Many of us locals, and likely our out-of-town guests, are mystified by this phenomenon, even as we find ourselves involved on one or the other on a daily basis. Since these collisions are rather unmistakable and hard to ignore, one has to wonder why not acknowledge them?

Some of the more rebellious of us will go so far as to respond to the offending party with a pointed "Pardon" or "Excuse me," as if to drive home the point their rudeness. Ok, some of us are a little mouthier than that. After all, this is New York City and if you've got a colorful vocabulary, this is the place to flaunt it.

It struck me as amusing and a little ironic that we were all at a gala for dance, which is customarily associated with composure, grace, etc., and yet we were banging into each other wordlessly, as to not draw attention to our clumsiness.

On more than a few occasions that night, I was bumped vigorously -- enough to be sent stumbling into my companions. An excellent look for a dancer. ;)

Later, I took two trains to get home. On the first train, the doors opened for us to exit and wewere flooded by the people onthe platform who were intent on boarding immediately. None of them waited to give us room to pass. It was wall-of-people meets wall-of-people. Talk about an impasse.

The second train was a short trip. Upon arrival, the doors opened and the people waiting to board waited patiently on either side of the opening. We passed through easily, all of us exiting the train before a single person boarded.

It felt like a miracle.

I was so grateful that I thanked them all on my way out of the train. No doubt they weren't in any less of a rush than their counterparts on the platform of the first train, yet they were far more aware and "switched on," and not to mention far more graceful than their dance-loving counterparts.