NYC Writings


New York and the Color Yellow by Ami Gates                                                11/17/11

In the midst of unloading all that we own, packing the rest in my Parent’s Garage, and Initiating our plan to wander the world in search of answers, Jeremy and I thought we would join Josh for a quick weekend jaunt to NY City, Manhattan Island.

Josh was staying at The W on Times Square and invited us to hang out. So of course, we did.

Our Wednesday was spent traveling to NY, with our drive to Orlando, our 2 hour late plane, our flight to NY, and “getting a Taxi”.

In my imagination, and from watching TV shows, I had always envisioned a huge surplus of Taxi’s in NY, just waiting to take you anywhere you want to go. This has turned out to be most profoundly false.

When we exited the airport with our bags, we entered what we discovered was the Taxi Line. A line made up of over 60 groups of people, waiting, smoking, complaining, and talking on cell phones.

After about 40 minutes in line, we entered a Cab with a man wearing a large yellow turban and driving skills that nearly resulted in the deposition of urine in his back seat.

“I only have the one pair of underwear!” I kept yelling, but it seemed that maybe he did not speak good English.

We then arrived at The W on Times Square, after 12 fun filled hours of travel, met up with Josh, and had a look at the Room on the 52nd floor.

The view was excellent, and we all decided to head out for some food and walking. We walked around Times Square for a while, located the Whole Foods Market on the edge of Central Park, and then planned to get Japanese food.

The Japanese Restaurant was small and quaint. We all ordered lots of foods to taste, and I was pleased with my tofu. Jeremy sampled the Saki, and then sampled it again.

After much eating, we stopped at the Whole Foods Market so I could buy Ami-foods, like Red Bhutan rice, distilled water, sprouted lentils, apple cider vinegar, fruit, and some soy yogurt for that evening. The Whole Foods was huge and filled with people. It was similar in size to a Boca Raton, FL Whole Foods, but not so much in spirit. The smell of funk, cheese, and what I think was spoiled meat filled isles 3 and 4, and people were in a hurry. It was also nearly 11 pm and the store was still open (my favorite thing about NYC besides Central Park).

I gathered all of my food items into my cart and ventured to the “line where you check out”. Josh and Jeremy had stepped away to go to the restroom and so it was up to me to wait in line.

In NY, there are not “lines” per se, but rather, there are organized queuing areas with police overseeing the mania. So, I entered one of the queues. I looked overhead and noticed that there were large screens that displayed all the numbered checkout counters. Apparently, when a checkout counter is ready for a person to approach, the screen will light up with the number of that counter and the number is also called out aloud, like “ Numba 28” for example.

OK, I thought, seems easy, I can do this.

At some point in the far future, I was at the front of my queue, and to my right was a Chinese woman at the front of her queue. She was looking at me. I became uneasy.

Then, at that moment, two numbers were called and both lit up, nearly simultaneously. So, I chose to go to the closer counter 18, and figured that the Chinese woman would go to the other counter 15. As I approached the counter and started to load my groceries onto the very small area, I looked to my right and the small Chinese woman was standing less than one inch from my side. A terrified small squeal-like sound slipped from my lips and I stood looking at her.

She then yelled, “Yellow!!”.

Hmm, I thought, yellow, hmmm, what could this mean? Is this a racial issue? Did I accidently get into the Small Chinese Woman line rather than the Short Italian Woman line? But why “yellow”, what can that mean??

As I pondered the notion of color, she again yelled the word “Yellow!” into my general area. I turned and looked at the checker, who rolled her eyes and started checking out my items.

“I can move to the other numbered line if you would like”, I said to the checker. Though I was not certain why the Chinese woman had not just gotten into the other line. I again looked to the checker for an explanation or reassurance that I had not accidently entered the Special Yellow Line for the Small but Surprisingly Loud. (the SYLSSL Line). The checker, who continued to check my items seemed unconcerned, and the Chinese woman, still standing only 1 inch from my person, made a very unpleasant noise at me and ventured to the counter next to me (also with no wait).

The Whole Foods Yellow Event, and its meaning, remained a mystery to me until our second stop at a different Whole Foods Market the following day. As it turns out, the queues are also color-coded on the floor of the queue (like a prison or insane asylum).

Once you choose a queue, you must then enter a counter that lights up AND is in your correct color region. Apparently, I had been standing in the blue queue and had gotten into the yellow area by mistake. To avoid this egregious color faux pas again, I noted that I was “red area” and should proceed accordingly.