One day after I moved uptown to Washington Heights I decided to try taking the bus downtown. I have a lot of fond memories of riding the bus around with the various kids I babysat in New York City from the time I was 13 until I was about 23.
I had Clara in a carseat fitted into a stroller contraption. It was a hot day in early August. The bus pulled up to my stop and the doors hissed open and I prepared to board. The bus driver held out his hand, stopping me.
"Miss, you gotta fold up that stroller or you can't board."
What? Fold up the stroller carrying my one month old and do what with it? It took my new-mom muddled brain a minute to process these new bits of information.
Turns out that stroller policies have changed on New York City buses since I last babysat in the mid-nineties. You now have to take your child out of the stroller and close it up. In my case involved taking the car seat out of the stroller, holding the baby/carseat while trying to fold up the stroller part. A nice gentleman standing on line helped me out with all these machinations while the patrons already on the bus glared in fury at the delay.
After that ordeal I got a seat on the bus, with car seat Clara in my lap. I realxed a little - enjoying the air conditioning and the view as the bus meandered down Broadway.
A few stops later a middle aged woman gets on and sits next to me. Without preamble, and without acknowledging my presence, she starts talking to Clara in a baby voice:
"Hewooo wittle one…what is your Mommy doing taking you out on a hot day like this? Is she cawazy? She should be inside with such a wittle baby on a hot day. It's too hot for wittle babies.”
Another round of unasked for advice - this time directed at my baby daughter who hadn't even learned to focus her eyes yet.
I turned to the woman and said: "She’s on her way to visit her grandmother. And she’s fine.”
The woman said: “I guess New Yorkers do things differently.”
I said: “Yeah – they do.”
The conversation ended there.