The corona virus hit the US metropolis with full force. How the crisis is changing the city and its residents.
Until a few weeks ago, New York was a city whose proverbial energy was nourished by the fact that 8.5 million people rubbed against each other day and night.
Trouble in the laundry room
Literally: In the fully packed subways, while standing in line in front of the latest hip shed, in the laundromats, where New Yorkers, whose houses do not have their own laundry room (i.e. the vast majority) regularly argued about the few functioning machines and dryers. The coronavirus and the associated lockdown put an end to all of that.
Up until a few weeks ago, New York was a city where everything was available at any time: a pedicure at three in the morning, Hawaiian cocktails for breakfast, stand-up comedy and raw cookie dough as a combination offer in the early evening.
What it takes to survive
Now you don’t have to worry about what you want to enjoy yourself. One is afraid of not getting what one needs to survive in an emergency.
Will a bed be free for me in one of the overcrowded hospitals, should something happen to me? Or will I be put in one of the tents that have been set up for the sick in Central Park? And that’s still better than ending up in one of the 45 mobile morgues that were opened up on 30th Street. Not to mention the mass graves that the New York authorities have included in their disaster plans.
Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year in New York. If you are lucky and have a window in your shoebox-sized apartment that doesn’t open onto an air shaft, you might be able to watch a few magnolias and ginkgo trees bloom.
Spring for the black market
But the only bloom that really interests you at the moment is that of the black market. The bagel bakery, which may still be open as a grocery store, sells toilet paper under the hand. So the tip of a neighbor.
The stationery shop, which also provides postal services and is therefore also open, should still have face masks. Six dollars each. All companies, from the nail salon to the auto repair shop, are actually obliged by decree to deliver their inventory to the local hospitals. Everything is missing there.
New York will survive the coronavirus. Naturally. But does that also apply to the homeless Jerry, who sat in his wheelchair on his corner every morning and waited for someone to buy him a coffee? For Amir, who ran the food truck with the halal menu across from the now closed mosque on 11th Street?
The city lacks proximity
After 9/11, total strangers hugged each other in this city to comfort each other. During the legendary power outages, New Yorkers danced together on the avenues.
After the super storm Sandy, they helped each other pump out the flooded cellars. But in this crisis, what has so far defined the character of this city has been taken from them: the closeness of its residents to one another.
This closeness is sometimes amusing, often annoying, always inevitable. You want them back more than anything else.