Head Over Heels

Okay, I have officially become one of those people. You know, Those People. The People who a mere week ago I felt completely justified, even compelled, to make fun of. The People so besotted with their Blackberry AKA Crackberry devices they can’t take their eyes or hands off them for a minute. No matter how public the place or how scintillating the social scene, their gazes are fixed on that tiny backlit screen, their nimble fingers tap, tap tapping away at the miniscule keyboard. These are the people who suddenly draw to dead stops on busy sidewalks–and hey, it’s Manhattan, so it’s not like there are lots of un-busy sidewalks–Subway stairs, and yes, sometimes even crosswalks.

Okay, so maybe I haven’t done the zombie stuck in crosswalk thing, but it’s only been a week.

I got my Blackberry–The Curve, she’s called–exactly one week ago, last Friday. Chalk it up to the whole Mercury about to go into retrograde thing or just damned bad luck, but getting her programmed and primed to come home with me wasn’t exactly a cyberspace cakewalk.

Stepping into the Verizon store I realized I’d left my glasses at home. That’s bad. For those of you who are shrugging like that’s no big deal, I’ll just say this: Girlfriend isn’t a kid anymore. As we get ahem…older, size matters in ways you’d never really thought about size mattering before. Reference the words “tiny” and “miniscule” above. Ditto for “glare” and “light.”

After the glasses panic, the episode turned into one big downward spiral. I didn’t get the woman retailer I like, the one who speaks in soft, lilting Indian-accented English, the one who explains technology “stuff” so calmly and so well that I always leave the store humming “I am woman, hear me roar.” Instead I got one of her relatives, the smug, unpleasant man with the bad comb-over and the brusque manner. For all his posturing, he didn’t really understand how the device worked. Unfortunately for me, he didn’t much care if I understood how it worked, either. We had to call Verizon technical support–a lot.

The store is in Manhattan’s East Village, on the ambulance route to Beth-Israel. Fridays are busy ambulance days. I’m not sure why. They just are. Being on the Verizon hot line with sirens blaring and the store’s disco music going at full throttle was…well, a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I like Donna Summer as much as the next child of the 80’s, but when your head is splitting, you’ve left your glasses at home, and your not-yet-purchased Crackberry is down to two bars and the seller is refusing to spot you a charger, five back-to-back choruses of “Hot Stuff” is quite enough.

Another thing that tends to happen more on Fridays than any other day of the week is people freak out. It’s as though whatever’s been bugging them all week builds and builds so that by the time Friday rolls around, instead of hi-fiving each other and doing a TGIF version of Snoopy’s happy dance they detonate.

Case in point: a young man whose cellphone had stopped working came into the store. It turned out he just needed a charger. Unfortunately he only had $10. To get rid of him, the retailer (the reasonable woman, not the bad comb-over dude) agreed he could just pay the $10. The “reduced price” charger with tax came to $10.60. But remember, he only had $10–period. She told him he could pay just the $10 but bad comb-over guy wasn’t having that. The kid, who’d begun to sweat and speak at a high volume (AKA scream), went outside and panhandled the 60 cents in record time. Looking on with my one ear plastered to the store phone funneling precious tech support instruction and the rest of me prepping to hit the ground if need be, I was impressed. He returned with the change, only by now bad comb over guy suddenly decided he could keep it. An even ten dollars would do.

Only this young man had gone to some effort to get that 60 cents. He didn’t feel like he was being treated respectfully. He wanted to be appreciated.

“People are rude sometimes,” he howled into my free ear, part fury and part lament. “People really should be nicer.”

Yes, they should. Fortunately there is a Happy Ending to report. The kid slammed the 60 cents down on the desk and left without brandishing a weapon (bonus!). The technical support guy and I struck up sufficient sympatico to get the basic set-up on my Blackberry programmed. (Did I mention he had a very sexy voice)? The bad comb-over guy shoved my “free gift,” some crap carrying case, at me along with my receipt and rebate instructions and wished me a nice weekend in the tone usually associated with “Go to hell.” I got back to my apartment, my Blackberry fully functioning (albeit down to one bar) and my body fully intact, and poured myself a glass of wine.

Curvy and I’ve had quite a week together. I’ve taken her all over the city, checking and sending email in places I never would have dreamt of checking and sending email before. Last night we went to The Modern, the sleek, white-marble topped bar/lounge at the Modern Museum of Art or MOMA. While I waited for my buddy Liz to join me, I sipped my glass of chardonnay and yes, tapped away at Curvy’s cute little raised button keys, sifting through emails, panning through photo attachments, sending reports on my “status” to Facebook. Ah, the techno-life! I’m not sure whether I’m taking Her out tonight or if we’ll be spending a quiet evening at home instead. Aside from cats on Fancy Feast patrol, there’s no traffic to speak of in my apartment, so staying home is probably safer. Either way, my Blackberry won’t be out of my sight.



Chewing the…Hash

One of the reasons I feel so lucky to be a writer is that I get to share my “world” with so many other folks, readers. These days the blogosphere affords the opportunity to chat up some of the really cool people and stuff I encounter in my “real” world, too.

If you’ve read this far, apparently you’re listening to me, which is a very good thing. 😉

Because I am bursting at the seams (no, not that kind of bursting though admittedly I’ve been hitting the Tasti Delite kinda hard) to talk about a great running club I just joined, the New York City Hashers.

Apparently hashing is tres international. It started in Malaysia in the late 1930’s, and there are groups throughout the US as well as the globe. In NY, the Harry’s Hashers chapter draws members mainly from Manhattan. Basically the group leader, called a Hare, chalk marks a trail for the rest of the runners, The Pack, to follow–or not follow. The run begins at a bar (excellent, yes) and the endpoint is yep, you guessed it, another bar. Most of the runners wait until the finish to imbibe. Participants toss about $15, Hash Cash, into the communal till, which covers beer and noshes for the night.

Last night was my first hash, and frankly I can’t wait to go back next week. About 50-60 runners met up outside of Suspenders Bar in Manhattan’s Financial District. Once the run got underway, folks got serious. While the web site gives the impression that the running part of the event provides an excuse to drink and socialize, don’t believe it. Harry’s hashers are seriously fit, with the majority of last night’s group running sub-nine minute miles. There’s also a nice mix of ages (anything from twenty-somethings to sixty-somethings), singles and married couples, backgrounds etc.

The approximately six-mile “trail” wound through the Battery, China Town, the Lower East Side, Alphabet City, and Gramercy. Sweaty but smiling, we ended at Plug Uglies, a gem of a dive bar in the East Village named for the New York street gang immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s GANGS OF NEW YORK. Ironically the present day pub is a popular watering hole for New York’s finest–note the police shields festooning the dark paneled walls–as well as running club friendly.

We hashers basically took over the place. Pitchers of icewater awaited and after downing the requisite rehydrating plastic cupful, most club members were ready for stronger stuff. Later (as in several Stellas later), there was toasting or rather roasting of the hash leaders, the trail, and specific members, including a dalmatian with a purported flatulence problem–or was that her owner? Last but not least for a turn in the spotlight were the hash “virgins” including…yep, you guessed it, Yours Truly, who had to down beer shots while the group cheered and chugged. Afterward, the leaders broke out the food, played shuffle board (a popular bar fixture), told runners’ “war stories” and just generally had a good time.

Whatever your outdoor passion–running, cycling, golfing, walking or even gardening–it’s spring for gosh’s sake, so make like the Nike ad and “Just Do It.”

Happy trails,