People do not come to NYC for it’s “safety”. Honestly, that word shouldn’t even be allowed in any sort of description of this city. The reputation of this city is built on grit, decadence and crime. The big neon lights that promoted peep show girls and xxx features, the pimps, the tricks, the hustlers, the gangs, the roaches and rats. That’s what most people think of when they think about New York.
I get more questions about where to score drugs, where the action is, how this city used to be than I do “where is safe”. People didn’t come here to see Disney Plays, they came here to get dirty and gritty. While Port Of Authority still acts as the black heart of the city, it seems to have gotten a bit of a bypass. It used to be so much more than what you see.
We still have our junkies and homeless. It’s sort of a novelty now. Our trains are Teflon covered to prevent them from being huge murals for graffiti artists. If you can find me a hooker in Times Square at night I will buy you drinks all night. The city just simply is not what it used to be.
So one night as I am riding the L train late at night, there in front of me is a woman nodded out on smack. It’s not a big deal. She doesn’t smell and she is just a little ball of a person withdrawn in a drugged out stupor. Ride the trains regularly and you’ll see about 5 people like this a day at least. I sneak a picture of her, because I think it’s funny that she has a roll of toilet paper attached to her. And I am a sucker for this sort of shit. The train is Brooklyn bound. Once upon a time taking the L was something you did to go crosstown on 14th St. in Manhattan. Maybe you rode it as far as the second stop in Brooklyn to connect with the G train. But after that it was a magic trick where most of the white people disappear. Now the L train is full of hipsters that dare to go as far as East New York. Which is a terrible neighborhood still. But it is part of the new frontier for gentrification; as is Bushwick.
At 3rd Ave the some of the cadets from the Police Academy roll in. Nothing new. They look at the woman who is totally smacked ass up and down and do what most cops in this town do, and leave it be. Some suburban tourist decides to approach the cadets and ask why they are not doing anything. Why is no one looking after the safety of this woman and if it were her, she’d hope that someone on the force would look out for her safety. I wanted to get up and knock her head off out of principal. The cadets took it with a grain of salt and ignored this princess for the most part. For those of you wondering why I was seething; let me explain:
- If you are too fucked up to ride the train, you should either take a cab or crash at a friends house. The train at night can be a dangerous situation. Any native will tell you that.
- If you have had a few drinks and are a little in the bag, stand up. Drink some water while you are at it. It’s really hard to sleep standing up. Water will make you want to piss and will wake you up a little. It’s good to be alert. Having to pee will wake you up too. Plus, you are getting a head start at working off a bad hangover with water in your system.
- As a matter of transit safety; the conductor car is the safest car. You might be able to grab that conductors attention for some sort of help. It is usually the middle car. Also, being in the middle gives you an option to run. Whereas the ends of the trains are fucking traps.
- Finally, the L Train goes through some fucked up areas. Bushwick, East New York and Canarsie. If you are headed in that direction, stay alert. I don’t give a fuck how nice Williamsburg has gotten. Some of the locals of the aforementioned areas make their income preying off soft transplants like you. So shut the fuck up about that junkie; you’ve just made yourself a fucking mark.
This is still NYC. A city that is still full of gangs. A city that has movies made that solely praise the violence and crime. A city that has always been built on hustling. So do not think that you will be safe at any point when you come here. You may be in an OK area, but you are never truly safe in the 5 Boroughs.
Let’s face it, aside from our top schools, you came to this city for it’s gritty vibe. There is no place like New York. It has it’s own identity. You can name a million attractions, but the safety is not certain. Nor is it part of the allure. If you want to be safe, go visit Middle America.