I was on my way to the midtown branch of the New York Public Library when I noticed how many of them there were around Grand Central today.
I used to stop and talk to them. In those days I wore a suit, and (usually) worked some kind of 1099 temp tech writing job — as did thousands of other aspiring writers — long before the term gig economy was coined. Usually the work involved writing end user manuals for the IT groups of large companies.
Out on the street I talked to a young black guy the most. In fact I looked for him. He was in his 30s, always clean shaven and wearing a clean sweater and a clean pair of pants. He would always have his left arm bent so his balled up hand could cover his ear while he talked to the air about the weather and the horse racing at Belmont with no one listening. I called him Radio Man.
I was researching a book then too. I would go to the NYPL and pull out any correspondence I could find in the Ganservoot Collection on the tragic death of Herman Melville’s young son, Macky.
Room 315 was a bit different in those days: they had a online catalog system in the big room that leads to the main reading room, but that has now been superseded by a Web site application.
There’s still plenty of lost men wandering the streets of New York nowadays, I’ve noticed.
The NYPL research book I’d put on hold last week had not yet arrived from its off-site location, so I returned home — but not before buying from the Green Truck a little item that my wife had asked to pick up.