Saturday, December 1, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good Evening from New York.

Today has been a really cold and windy day in New York. I had my little scrap of notated paper in my pocket as I headed out around 11 this morning, with the intent to get started on my Christmas list. Well. I waited a very long time on a windy corner for a bus to take me to the East Side of the park. I kept thinking, do I want to be even colder? Where is that elusive bus?

I had already done some errands on my west side of town, but needed to go eastward to go deeper into the Christmas shopping. Since I have to grab my free time when I can, every half-hour really does count.

Finally the bus arrived. My fellow twenty waiters and I boarded, and soon we wound through the Park's transverse road and emerged on to Fifth Avenue. I got off and got to stop one on my list. Done. On to stop two. But by this time the cold and the really huge crowds on the sidewalks of midtown were putting me off. (I do think that many of these folks on the sidewalks were out-of-town tourists, because they just did not walk at the pace that we New Yorkers sort of get used to.) I made one stop, and then returned home.

It was much more productive to stay cosy at home for the afternoon and continue my Christmas card painting. Great jazz music on my radio. A few phone calls with friends. Very relaxing. And warm.

This past week, our company held its annual holiday party, a few weeks earlier than usual. Don't think that we have ever before had the party in November. Anyhow, it was fun to have a chance to see folks that I usually only connect with via e-mail or phone calls. Great food and drink. Music, dancing. Venue located right on the edge of the Hudson River, with great big windows overlooking the water and the city skyline. Lovely.

We also learned this week of the year's great financial success for our company. This means a big profit sharing bonus for each of us, and hopes of more to come. I attended a meeting at which there was opportunity to share views with our company's founder, and of course I had to take advantage of that opportunity.

Perhaps not so great news is the past week's crime in the area of the shop. Last weekend as a club in the area closed up ca. 3 a.m., someone was stabbed to death. This club is a block away from our shop. Obviously the night life in the area is quite different from what normally goes on during business hours.

Ah, but wait. Also last week, there was an armed robbery in a shop at the corner of our block of Fifth Avenue at 4 p.m. Now this concerns me. Alarms me. Since learning of this incident from one of our delivery service's drivers, I have tried to find out more about what actually happened, and how we may get additional protection for the shop. I have been communicating with the robbed shop, the police and with my company. So far, I regret to say, I am not happy with the results of my communicating. Maybe I will feel differently by this time next week.

December is always a dicey time crime wise in this city. There is just so much money around, the nights are long, people are not attentive, all sorts of factors.

My concern as a manager is that I want those on my staff, and also my customers to be safe. I want to be safe myself! Making theory into reality is not always so easy. When it comes to safety, I am not of the laissez-faire school of thought. It is upsetting not to have calls to the local police precinct returned. When I go back to the shop tomorrow, I will try again to get some answers about what the police may be doing to provide the area with addtional protection during this glorious holiday season.

Meanwhile, my neighborhood's sidewalks now have the annual additions of lots of Christmas trees for sale. The trees mostly are trucked in from Canada, in all sizes from tres petit to twelve foot tall ones for the high-ceilinged grand apartments. It is great to walk past these trees just to breathe in the fragrance. Each one of these "encampments" is staffed 24/7 by heavily bundled up young entrepreneural folks who manage to make a bit of money each December. Most have boom boxes blaring forth various notions of Christmas music, usually not any of the carols that you all might recognize.

Let me end this seasonal New York report with the vision of sidewalks lined with stands of lovely green Christmas trees awaiting adoption.

Pleasant dreams to all.


  1. This safety thing is very worrying and I can understand you feeling vulnerable. Let's hope that your local precinct can be useful.
    You describe New York at Christmas so well I feell I'm almost there.

  2. I have been to New York near Christmas and I loved it such a party feeling, I know what you mean about feeling vunerable although I loved the bush in South Africa I hated the cities life is so cheap there and the violence is very high. Keep safe dear Frances, we must all take care wherever we are.
    Love Blossom x

  3. Christmas shopping in New York. People pay a fortune to fly over to New York for this pleasure. You are so lucky!

    I do hope things are okay with the crime factor. That is indeed worrying. Fingers crossed very tightly you get the protection you need. Do you open until late at this time of year?

    Crystal xx

  4. The Canadian trees are so lovely, I have often bought them while staying with my daughter in Canada.
    What a worry about local crime, I'm sure you have to be very vigilant at this time of year.

  5. Oh Frances, do take care. I can see why this time of year would have more than normal risk factor, so much pressure on people to spend up big, the fabulous offerings adorning every glittering window, while those without much at all watch consumerism in full flood... bit of recipe for trouble what ever country you may be in. Look after yourself, dear friend. xx

  6. worrying times in what should be the season of goodwill. Now are you going to be adopting a little tree Frances? Or a big one even in the shop perhaps?

  7. Lovely views of New York and you make it sound, Frances, like those scenes in Kramer v Kramer all busy sidewalks, cold winds, and bustling heat and light inside with the sky threatening snow when the poor man is trying to find a job on Christmas Eve.

    Here in Wales it is wild and windy, but quite warm despite the rain and the 100% humidity outdoors.

  8. I could just see you in your apartment painting your cards away from the cold and hustle and bustle. Crime is everywhere but you are doing your best to protect yourself, customers and store.

  9. Thank you Frances for this lovely catch up. Sounded a much better idea for you to be warm at home. the violent crimes are worrying and must have left you feeling vulnerable; try not to let it overshadow things for you. That means these awful people win. Beeautiful description of Christmas in NY xx

  10. Talk of christmas trees reminds me of watching the old black and white version of miracle on 42nd street as a small child with I htink Jimmy Stewart in it!

    Do hope you remain safe and sane over the festive season !

  11. Sending my sincere wishes that you all keep safe over the coming season. City life can be so worrying at times, I know. I am so envious of you - I have never been to New York at Christmas time, but would love to go. I spent a week in December once in Chicago (for work) and it was wonderful, a great city, if a little cold!

  12. I love your city posts, it makes what is a dream city real for me even though I will worry about you now, (this is why I prefer to live in the country). I was tuned in to a New York classical radio station on the PC the other day and they said you had snow! Stay safe and warm.

  13. Keep safe my friend, we would miss you too much. Lovely blog, as always!

  14. As usual you brought new york to life, i waited with you freezing at that bus stop xx thank you.
    Be very careful francis christmas time brings out the best ans worst in folk, i had an attempted robbery in my shop the year before last they got away with nothing and where pounced on by some locals, but it could have been so different xxxoo

  15. Frances, thank you for finding the time to read my quick post. I was on the beach at St David's again last week and whenever the jetstreams cross the sky I think of you on the other side - it feels very comforting. Take care this month.

  16. Dear Frances,

    My apologies for being late getting here. I just love your letters from America, your lovely blogs. Quite frightening about the crimes recenly, good though that you have taken steps to protect yourself and staff.

    The painting of festive cards sounds wonderful,how lovely for friends to receive, wish I had your talent for painting Frances.

    Love Camilla.xx

  17. Just wanted to thank you for your most kind comment on my blog.

    Take care x