Last night I went to Bryant Park’s Word for Word writing workshop. Memoir and Creative Non-Fiction were on tap, led by Miranda McLeod, who is wonderful. She gave us two writing assignments to choose from: take a walk around the park and talk to a stranger, or take out our phones and call a family member and ask them the question we’ve been afraid to ask. I took the easy way out and went to find a stranger!
Here’s my piece:
“Some people nice, some people drunk. All kinds of people come here.”
He could be talking about any place, every place, but where we are is a carousel, a pretty little merry-go-round on the south side of Bryant Park on a warm breezy night in July, and Arturo just gave me a ride and posed for my camera.
“What do you do when people are drunk?”
“Well, the customer always right,” he says. He says this several times while we talk and I wonder if that bit of vendor wisdom was drilled in during Parks Department orientation or learned from his previous life back in the Philippines before he found himself here, in New York, working two nights a week in a restaurant in Queens and the rest of his week here, helping riders — both nice and drunk — onto his carousel for a few spins around and around.
Some people are nice. Like Arturo himself — a gentle-faced man with close-cropped, slightly greying hair, looking forward to dinner home with his wife. Dreaming big for his children who are both in college now and living an American story.
And some people are drunk. Or mean. Or cranky. Or just not good at dealing with other people. Arturo’s shrug is so zen, so accepting and dismissive all at once. That shrug says that Arturo glides along as smoothly as the shiny horses on his ride. Life goes on, everything has a place in the cycle.
Some people are nice. Some are drunk. Shrug. Go home. Enjoy your family. Start again tomorrow.