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Breaking the Bubble
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Each time I venture out of my little suburban bubble, I realize what a homogenized, bland existence it’s possible to live in the confines of HeatherRidge-CharterCross-StepfordWives-Ville. Today on the local train to Philadelphia I overheard two men talking about the political situation in Cuba and what actions the US should take. The typical conversations I’m more likely to run across involve how many activities the speaker’s children are involved in (the more over-taxed and over-stressed and over-scheduled, the higher the status points) or how busy the speaker is running around after their kids or whether to get the shutters or the roman shades for the sunroom.

There is a dark side to leaving the protective borders of the ‘burbs, as evidenced by this exchange heard on the train:
TeenGirl: (out of breath from running for the train) That was so close! My van just pulled up and, like, the train was right there!
OlderMan: Shouldn’t you be in school? (it was about noon)
TG: I go to an alternative school and we got out early today because there was a trip or something.
OM: What’s your name? (creepily leaning forward over the empty seat between him and TG)
TG: Uh, I’m 14. I don’t think I should say my name.
OM: It’s ok. I know your friend and she’ll tell me if you won’t.
TG: (visibly upset, turns her back on the disturbing old guy who will probably appear on one of those “Dateline Catches The Perverts!” shows)
OM: (sits back and waits for a few stops to move into the seat behind TG who shifts as far forward in her seat as she can without sliding onto the floor)
TG: (gets off a few stops later and starts sprinting away from the train as soon as her feet hit the ground)

Then there was the woman in a wheelchair at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia who asked a cop with a dog to help her find her bag that a red-cap had allegedly taken from her. At one point the dog, a large German Shepherd whose paw-steps were eerily silent, lunged at the woman while barking ferociously.

The cab drivers in New York – ferrying me from Penn Station to Grand Central Station and back since I am too much of a country bumpkin to brave the wilds of the NYC subway system – were both talkative and gave me their opinions on:
  • Traffic – there’s way too much of it. More people should leave their cars at home and take public transit. Or use cabs.
  • Out-of-towners – there are way too many of them in NYC this time of year.
  • Iraq – we’re throwing away way too many young lives there while the first daughters are “whoring around” Argentina
  • Manhattan – way too expensive to live there.
  • Growing kids – they eat way too much. Also too expensive, but what can you do?
  • Holiday shoppers – why aren’t they all done shopping by now? Why did they wait so long? They should have had all their shopping finished by November 15th so that “they could enjoy the streets.”
    By the time I had waited about 30 minutes for a taxi (at the spot on Vanderbilt where I was assured there was a never-ending stream of cabs) – fending off at least a dozen offers of “anywhere in midtown, 10 minutes or less” from the scary pedi-cab drivers, I had missed my train to 30Th Street, and had to wait in another line to get re-ticketed. The trains were all running about an hour late, so I prevailed upon my husband to drive the 45 minutes into the city to pick me up, rather than the 5 minutes to the local train station, which would have required me to spend another 90 minutes waiting for and riding the SEPTA train. So instead, he waited 90 minutes for me sitting outside the scenic train station. All-in-all, way too many minutes were spent. And that is why I never leave the comfy cushions of the suburbs.

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