Having just returned last week from a jaunt from the left to the right coast, my view of New Yorkers has been refreshed. Walking the streets of mid-town Manhattan, I remembered why the City earned its reputation. Graffitti was abundant. Trash was piled up several feet high in garbage bags along the curbs. The lovely white snow that first greeted our family on Sunday turned by Monday into dirty slush, and as I noted in my previous blog, the incessant dripping from above as I walked down the street left my hair wet. The jovial friendliness of downtown Seattle was replaced by hurrying crowds who couldn't pause to say "excuse me" when they bumped and shoved and dashed past.
In other words, though New Yorkers can be loving and kind on an individual basis, as a group, in public, they're pretty tough. And rude. And unfriendly. Sometimes even menacing.
But even so, there IS a point beyond which bad behavior will not be tolerated. I just watched, on You Tube, the video of the mugger smacking the head of 101-year-old Rose Morat, who had been leaning on her walker leaving her Queens apartment building to go to church. I saw her speaking to a reporter afterward, face black and blue, expressing her pity for the criminal--who knocked her over, and her walker as well, and absconded with her purse containing $33.
Also in the news report was an interview with the 85-year-old woman, Solange Elizee, that this same moron attacked later in the day. She also expressed shock at the behavior of her attacker--who got $32 and her wedding ring. This time the perpetrator entered an elevator with the woman, exited a floor before her, and ran upstairs to bash her in the head as she emerged.
News of these crimes has brought out the sense of justice in New Yorkers, who have reacted fiercely--raising a reward of more than $18,000. An Associated Press article about the incidents quoted Joe Sarju, 59 in his feelings about the criminal: "I could hold him and let the woman beat him up," he offered. "I'd love to beat him, but then they would lock me up."
OK, I did chuckle reading that end part--Mr. Sarju's anger goes only so far. But what is heartening to me is New Yorkers' unequivocal reaction. To mug anyone is bad--intolerable--but to victimize the helpless is unforgivable.
My hope here is that indignation over the attacks on these feisty senior citizens will mobilize New Yorkers--and anyone else who is outraged--to permanently care a bit more for the welfare of his or her neighbors. And I also hope that the attacker is quickly caught, and that he receives the greatest penalty the law allows.
And to my friends who live in Queens--I know you'll be there to escort little old ladies with walkers wherever they need to go.