Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lessons from NYC

We do this tradeshow every year, the New York Toy Fair.

I always feel like I'm in a movie, not a real person walking, talking, and taking it in.

It is exhausting, exhilarating, and exponentially eye opening.

Some of this is review, meaning the same things happen every year, and they are worth repeating.

Some are new and astounding, as in, "I can't believe I just heard, or saw that!"

Review Lessons (Don't worry, there won't be a quiz):

Starbucks is still the best coffee, when you need caffeine to hoof around NYC. For me, I ignore the politics. Just let me drink my coffee.

Taxi drivers don't use the brakes, they use the horn. If you've watched the movie Elf, Buddy is right, the yellow ones don't stop, except when they need money.

Times Square is over the top in visual effect. Sorry Brasstown, NC, the opposum drop needs a few neon lights to show up in this Manhattan town.

The city literally never sleeps.

Some homeless people choose to live in NYC. Why? I'm not sure.

The Irish pubs, the old Italian establishments have the best food. And the best beer and wine.

No matter how comfortable the shoes are when you try them on in the store, you will need band-aids by mid-week.

Christ's presence at St. Patrick's Cathedral is probably holding the island together.

Rockafeller Center on ice is the ultimate fantasy. At least for me.

And the last review that I consider also a social experiment is this: New Yorkers seem a little stiff, but if you get in their space with a smile, they are soft as butter.

New Lessons:

I love watching Hassidic Jews from Brooklyn at the tradeshow. I also am intrigued by the Amish  and Mennonite folks. I admire their devotion to God and culture. I have learned to be polite and listen and watch for manners and mores with these folks. I am fascinated.

Some strict orthodox Jewish men will not talk with women. Some women will not shake hands, not even with women. I found this out, when one smiled politely and explained that to me. I appreciated her grace and honesty.

This whole handshaking business got me conducting my own social experiment. It is also a lean back to my days at UCF in the school of Communication.

My husband will only shake hands with a woman, if she offers her's first.

After having my anniversary band crushed between my fingers with a too firm handshake, I decided that I will rarely offer my hand...even if the guy shoves his calloused paw into my space. I also remember cleaning the bathrooms at the drug store as a manager, way back in 1987. Guess what girls? Most of the guys didn't wash their hands. I saw their black swipes on the exit door as proof.
I've watched my Rob interact with women retailers for years now. His eye-contact, intelligent conversation, and customer service is all he needs to show them respect. He is tall and can be imposing and is aware of this, so he is careful not to come on too strong. I love him for that, and I marvel at how he handles customers, both male and female.

In conducting this social experiment, I observed that too many men are afraid of offending a woman's feelings in business, which to me is ironic. It is afterall business, right? They will reach first to shake hands instead of waiting for the lady. It's annoying to me. I once heard a close friend of mine say, "I owe affection to no man, except my husband." I agree. A side hug with a close friend is different, but in business, at church, at social gatherings, acquaintances get a hello and a casual smile. That's about it.

When my son was little I homeschooled and selected a Mennonite curriculum to teach him basic preschool skills. The workbooks were simple black and white, and not over stimulating. This was the best choice for my son. I also read simple stories to my kids from that same publisher.
I was curious about the difference between the Amish and Mennonite cultures, so I asked a lady who is a retailer and is Amish. This is not an exhaustive study, because like everywhere, there are liberal and conservative Ordnungs, just like there both types of people in other communities. She explained to me that the heart shaped bonnets belonged to the Amish and the circular ones (which are also usually smaller) are worn by Mennonite women. Hats off to both! Again, I am totally in awe of their devotion to Christ and their expression towards Him and one another.

On to Broadway!!!  (Let's not forget the arts.)

The musical, Wicked  is just that...wicked...but in a good way.

Recently, I read an article about the benefits of losing ones self in a good novel, that there are positive connections made in the brain from enjoying a good story.

The Wizard of OZ  is a great story. Wicked doesn't take away from that. It is thought provoking and empathetic. The portrayal of the good witch Glenda, and the evil witch Elphaba, turns the whole perception of good vs. evil on its head. There is both in both witches. No spoilers here, but the show was fantastic, the music was incredible, and the comedy was a pleasant surprise. I would definately see it again.

College Level Credit:

There are children of light and children of darkness. People who are trying to please God and respect one another, and the converse is true also. There are people who are juvenile and disgusting, and to their defense, maybe never experienced true love.  All you have to do is sit and mind your own business in a metropolitan hotel lobby/bar to find out.

I won't go into this, except to say that my husband took a picture of our daughters and me working on laptops and leaning over chemistry and Aristotle textbooks, and the caption should read: Night of the Walking Dead. This captures the moment in the way we felt after a long day, and also the creepers lingering in the lobby.

Bonus Points:

Be always aware of where your phone, boarding pass, and wallet are. You just might need these.

When it's cold, wear a coat, gloves, and a hat.

Never wear heels.

When in NY, inner beauty is great, but gel insoles and a little mascara never hurts.

On the final day, take one last bite out of the Big Apple and take one last look in the drawers in your hotel room.

Appreciate where you come from. Be ready to fly... because there is no place like home. :)


  1. I really like this post on NYC, Susan. You give us a quick slice and I recall from my one visit the fast pace, the crowds of people, the lonely looking people I saw, but some of them were gracious and kind. The cabs in all big cities must be crazy because I remember a cab ride in san Francisco that took my breath away. Thanks for this glimpse into your trip. And, by the way, I was taught back in the day that a man is not to shake hands with a woman unless she offers her hand first. So your husband is well mannered.

    1. See Glenda, Supposedly we are liberated from the old ways of etiquette. The guys who mean well, really are unaware. They are afraid of not treating women as equals. Too me, there are subtleties that we need to go back and give a nod. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. Susan, thanks for this explicit sharing of your latest NYC trip. I really enjoyed it! I haven't been there since the mid 70's, but it sounds like not much has changed - all the good and all the bad.

  3. Thank you Maren. I want to say that this is my 7th Toy Fair and NYC is always over the top on everything.

  4. Great post, Susan. Thanks for sharing your insights.