Last night, I was walking back from the gym just as a light, not-quite-enough-to-justify-an-umbrella mist was starting. It had been an unsuccessful gym mission during which I walked all the way to the gym, discovered my class was canceled, used a couple of the machines, and walked most of the way home before noticing that I was somehow wearing two completely different shoes. Different colors, and, once I noticed, completely different amounts of arch support. So yeah...it was one of those days.
When I was almost back to my apartment, a woman stopped me on the street and asked if I lived in the neighborhood. Now having lived in New York a couple of years now, I know there are only four reasons strangers on the street try to talk to you: 1) they want to give you something (fliers, newspapers, coupons, tickets to what will inevitably be the least funny comedy show with two drink minimum of your life); 2) they want you to give them something (spare change, your voter registration information, credit card numbers); 3) they want directions, or 4) they're insane. This woman turned out to be in the third category (and perhaps a little in the fourth).
She told me she'd just moved from Manhattan to Astoria. I assumed she was looking for directions to a specific restaurant or perhaps a grocery or drug store. Her specific request was for a branch of the ASPCA. Now I happened to have adopted my cat from the ASPCA, so I was able to tell her that the closest branch is in Manhattan in the 90s. She pursued it a little longer, asking if I was sure. I told her there was a Humane Society a little closer and she momentarily perked up, until I mentioned that too was in Manhattan. She said she'd already checked the internet and that's what it said there too. However, rather than accepting the internet as law (as I generally do), she decided the next logical step was to wander the streets looking for one while asking strangers for their assistance. I told her I was sorry I couldn't help, and she took off in the direction of Broadway, presumably to comb it for very specific nonprofit animal control organizations.
The move to Astoria can be a tricky one for some Manhattanites, it seems. The part that really concerns me about this encounter is that she picked me, with the mismatched shoes, out of all the people on the street to ask. I'm thinking I need to invest in lint rollers before going to the gym in a black tank top again. (For those readers who haven't met my cat, she's mostly white...and a shedder).