The City of New York has a whole new population of recently minted citizens. They love it here, intend to stay and raise kids here, and want to build their careers here. And yet, in some important ways, these New “Real New Yorkers” are very different from the Real New Yorkers of generations past.
Today’s Real New Yorkers ride the subways day and night. They are not afraid and, why should they be? They never experienced yesteryear’s subways: sad, hot, tagged Redbirds, with only a door or two that worked. And, what’s more, they don’t care about the bad old days, either. The fact that their train did not derail or catch on fire today is no big deal:
Today’s Real New Yorkers are young and tech-savvy, full of energy. They don’t care for cars, ride bikes everywhere, and embrace mass transit. Importantly, they grew up with electronic devices that put 1960s era, NASA-level computing power in their shirt pocket. They want to know: when’s the next train coming? Why can’t I get Wi-Fi? Why doesn’t my Smart Phone work down here? What’s with these MTA neanderthals?
Some short stories, such as those in my recent collection, Home Front, put today’s New Real New Yorker into my time machine and back to the scary Days of Decline here in New York. Such tales are an eye opener for some.
But then, the story is read, the time travel is over and it’s back to today’s reality. Rather than asking, “If I get on this train at 2 a.m., will this be the day that I die?” they wonder: Why doesn’t my station have a countdown clock? as they sip complex Fair Trade coffee orders and flick the pages of their iPads.
Me? I’m just thrilled that the a/c works and I can see out the graffiti-less windows. Working a/c, on a New York City subway car. Imagine that!