I have the misfortune of a Manhattan malady. I live far east and I work far west. That means my commute, even on the lightest days is akin to something like the salaryman's version of the Bataan Death March. (My father used to quip that the only way to get across town in Manhattan was to be born there.)
In any event I take the sluggish M79 bus from York to Central Park West, a crowded journey of about 20 minutes and then switch to the downtown C train and take that--the worst of the subway lines--from 81st to 42nd.
What I notice nearly every morning is that no one notices anything. We are held captive by our inches-big screens, thumbing friends or dealing cards to the exclusion of nearly everything else.
I remember about 30 years ago a retailer on 57th Street was having some sort of an event that involved having a genuine elephant in front of their store. He had to hire barkers to exhort passersby to "react to the elephant."
That was many years ago and I suppose people were then rapt in conversation, their Sony walkmans or even the newspaper. But today things seem, to me anyway, to be worse.
Our life may not be in our hands, but that's where our focus is.