New York City is considered one of the greatest cities on earth. The theater, the Park, the music and the cuisine – all around it’s a great scene for anyone looking to have a good time. There’s a shady side to the City that people don’t really talk about because as a New Yorker you kind of come to accept it – the filth.
I’m going to preface this by saying that I’ve not been to third world countries. But I have been to enough countries to conclude that New York is by far the filthiest major city I’ve ever seen. Milan? Sure, there’s graffiti. Paris? Surprisingly clean (and friendly). Mexico City? A few stray cats but nothing to write home about. New York, on the other hand, is a veritable plethora (damn that thesaurus comes in handy) of filth. And, as some not from these parts notice, germs.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love the City. It’s like the world’s biggest playground. But what do you normally find in any playground? Boogers. Poop. Puke. Hepatitis. Ok, maybe not that last one unless a junkie stumbles onto the playground, but you get my point — the city is filthy.
When I moved here I wanted to live in New York. I mean, the whole 212 phone number, Manhattan as your address, etc. – it’s the stuff a lot of people dream of – until reality hits. Then after seeing a few places, riding the subway and hanging out in general that you realize the island is a festering ball of germs filled with rats, roaches, bed bugs, dog crap, human crap and piss and it’s really quite gross.
Go check out the subway and on your way down try not to step in a puddle. Yes, like a human piss puddle. Don’t mind the stench underground, because it actually gets worse when it’s hot out. You know, those few weeks, or a month, during the Summer when New York makes Washington DC jealous at the amount of humidity we’re having. Like, dripping through whatever you’re wearing on the way to work because it’s so humid days. Yeah, that’s a good time.
While you stand and wait for a subway, look down at the tracks and you’ll see rats that are the size of small dogs. Once you get on board, you’ll notice that the people on the train and subway with you all look ill, with severe bags under their eyes. With that comes the coughing and hacking and snotting you’d expect from people sharing the same germs in every tube they enter and exit day in and day out. Never mind that they’re all touching — dare I say groping — the smudged up metal hand rails. (Seriously, of any color the MTA could’ve picked, is “chrome” the best choice? “We want to show EVERY fingerprint and germ!”) Given all this it’s just a matter of time before you get sick. And that’s just the subway.
The streets are littered with, well, litter, and the grates steam up a smell of hot garbage. It’s quite disgusting, but wait – there’s more. Every building’s trash goes out in front because there aren’t really places for it to go due to a compact space and lack of room… so everyone’s garbage sits on the street until the night rats come and scurry through it. Also, in case you’ve never been – there’s no grass in New York except in a few parks, which most people don’t live near. But don’t worry – Fido doesn’t have to walk all the way to the grass you’re about to lay in at Central Park – he or she can just unload that dog rocket right on the concrete. You know, the place where your sister just passed out last night, face firmly placed on the ground because she came to the Big City to live it up. But at least she’ll have a nice memento of the city growing on her face in the form of a boil as a souvenir.
Don’t worry, though — the shop owners and landlords are required to take care of that mess by spraying the sidewalks down in the morning. Well, most of them do it. OK, some of them. OK, maybe just a few in the touristy areas. But whatevs, it’s just poop – I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?
All that being said, thankfully after a few years of living and working here combined with airline travel my immune system is nearly impenetrable. I have two kids in two different schools/grades and currently am the only one who’s not hocking up a lung. I just traveled to Mexico with layovers in two cities and visits to three and didn’t catch the dreaded swine flu. I step through, inhale, digest and probably contribute to mass amounts of germs and filth on the way to work and remain healthy. I credit it all to living and working in one of the most filthiest places on earth. 🙂