Introvert, maybe

Waiting for elevator, killer view

I’m staying in Manhattan for a few days for BlogHer ’12 and I’ve learned something (well, several things, but one to pick apart): I am slightly introverted.  I am shocked, truly.  I’m not sure if this is something new like how after turning 40 my hair went from stick straight to wavy, or if I just never met this part of myself because I’ve never been alone long enough to see it.  I’ve always identified solidly as an extroverted extrovert.  Give me my people, please.  But, no more.  Or at least not at the moment.
The conference is immense this year.  Five thousand registered attendees, a hundred and thirty brands with multiple attendees each.  The President of the United States of America talked to us via live video yesterday.  I listened to Elisa interview Martha Stewart while I ate a turkey sandwich at lunch.  I didn’t get to participate as much today as I’d hoped, or at least I wasn’t able to attend sessions, just because things came up.  Work things.  Full elevators.  But as I sat up on the 39th floor in the quiet, working, I realized it was okay.  The content I missed will be available for me to see and read and hear and watch later.  I was liking the elbow room and the quiet.  
And then I got homesick, which is honestly a little weird.  I haven’t been here long enough for that.  I like New York.  Like, like it a LOT.  More each time I come here.  So it was weird that when the time came for me to go out to a party, I grabbed my phone, pulled up the IMDB app, and looked for a movie to go see.  By myself.  
It was still too hot out to walk, so I took a cab about a mile away to the movie theater over by Lincoln Center, grinning like a dork the whole time at how happy and relaxed I was starting to feel.  If I have ever been to a movie alone I don’t remember it.  My memory is awful, so maybe I have, but I say that if I can’t remember doing it before, then this was my first time.  Part of what is making me believe this whole introvert thing is that I get overwhelmed fairly easily by too much commotion.  I don’t enjoy driving most of the time, because of the strain of processing too much information with too many senses at once.  I make the kids turn off the TV all the time because I can’t take the noise.  And, when I walk into a new situation, it takes me longer than most people to figure out how things work.  Like, for instance, the movie theater I went to.  There were revolving doors to enter and I wasn’t sure if I needed a ticket first, so I hung back a sec on the sidewalk and watched people.  It didn’t seem like I needed a ticket yet, so I went in.  I was on the ground floor and there were escalators and a sign listing the location of 13 different theaters by name.  I was like, Holy. Shit.  This whole giant city block is like a shopping mall of movie theaters?  And then I had to take my phone out again and check where Moonrise Kingdom was playing.  I found the name of the theater on the list, the list said the second floor, so up I went.  People were handing over tickets and going inside upstairs, but the only place I saw to get a ticket was an information booth.  The woman there was all, No, you have to get your ticket downstairs first, and I kinda figured out that it was a regular big-sized theatre with 13 screens and they were all named instead of numbered.  Duh.  I got back on the escalator to go get a ticket from a vending machine. 
Only, something happened.  I was still near the top, there was a woman down near the bottom in front of me.  I heard a horrible, horrible noise behind me, and turned to see an older man summersaulting head-first down the escalator, his metal cane shooting down the escalator stairs to my left.  It was awful.  Truly awful.
I started up toward him, snatched his cane with my left hand as it went by, and tried to get him on his feet before we got to the bottom.  He was old and thin, but strong and not frail.  He was probably 80 or older, and in good shape.  I handed him his cane, put my left shoulder under his right arm and made sure he was responsive just as we awkwardly stepped off the escalator at the bottom.  I grabbed his hat off the ground.  We just stood there for a moment, a small crowd gathering.  I looked for chairs or benches, but there were none, so I asked him if he might like to sit on the stairs across the room for a moment.  He asked me to check his head, and there wasn’t any blood, so we headed that way.  Before we got to the stairs another woman who’d seen the fall and was helping noticed that the back of his head was bleeding, and as we sat him down blood was running down both his arms, coming from under his shirtsleeves.  
When he’d fallen we were going down.  He fell forward and the metal teeth between the escalator stairs had pinched both his arms and cut into him.  He had a couple of cuts on the top and back of his head.  He looked a mess and I was still trying to wrap my brain around that sickening fall.  And I hadn’t even seen most of it.  Four of us stayed with him as employees came over and a manager said he’d call for help.  I could tell that the man didn’t really want help, so when he asked me I said, Oh, you hit your head and you’re bleeding, so we’re just having a doctor come by.  He seemed okay with this.  Then he heard an employee mention 911, and he got mad.  I imagine he was embarrassed, didn’t want to go through the ordeal of having to go to the hospital.  A man came up to us, and just like out of a movie said, I’m a doctor, can I help?  I said he was okay and we were just waiting to make sure he didn’t hit his head too hard or have a cut needing stitches or anything.  How he didn’t break his neck or back or ribs or limbs I do not know.  It’s possible he did, slightly, I guess.  It was such a fall.
We waited for the paramedics and the manager tried to get him to give him his information.  Like what? the man asked.  Just your name and address and phone number the manager said, I have to report all this.  But the man was having none of it.  The other people helping and I all gave our info, as witnesses, just in case of – what?  I’m not sure.  Another employee brought paper towels with Purell on them, and this really nice woman sat with him, helping him get cleaned up some and get the bleeding to stop.  Someone brought his phone to him that had flown out of his pocket.  I felt so badly for him.  Not sorry for him, but just bad.  I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was something like, Well this is just great.  I said, Did you at least get to see your movie already? and he said, Yeah, at least I already saw it.  Was it good? I asked.  He said yes and then I just waited a little away from him, giving him some space and trying to not stare.  
In the end the paramedics let him go, didn’t even clean him up, but I think it was just because he was too stubborn to talk to them.  I hope he can get up out of bed tomorrow.  I hope he’s not got broken bones.  I heard them ask about the cane and he said he’d had a stroke but he was fine.  He just wanted t
o go.   
The manager was surprised that we weren’t all together, that just the couple who stayed to help knew each other out of the five of us all.  He gave me a free movie pass and thanked me.  Then I went up and got in line and he pulled me out, telling me I had to go back to the information desk and get a ticket in exchange for my pass.  Once I finally figured everything out, I went inside, got a Coke and a popcorn for dinner (which I’m so not supposed to eat anymore – popcorn, not dinner – dinner is good) and sat and watched Moonrise Kingdom, which is probably my new favorite movie.  I loved it.  Completely.    
I left the theater feeling so much better.  Feeling recharged after sitting alone in the dark for a couple of hours.  I walked most of the way back to the hotel, without having to even check a map, crossing the streets like a New Yorker.  When I got to the part where I knew I needed to cut back over to the hotel and the streets were a darker and I was a tiny bit unsure of exactly where I was headed because Broadway is not straight and parallel to the other streets, I grabbed a cab back to the hotel.  See?  Street smart, just like a New Yorker.  
I’d intended to go up to another party, one that started just a few minutes before I got back, but as I waited for the elevator all I wanted was to come back up to the room.  The quiet.  So, here I am.  I’m going to have to leave and get something to eat, because I only got a tiny popcorn and stopped eating halfway thru because I’m not supposed to have it at all.  My one last challenge for today is to see if I can get to the Halal cart and back with my falafel sandwich without being spotted.  But if I am, that’s okay, too.  I still can’t believe I’m actually at all introverted. 
Solo movie night
That’s the manager, and the same escalator the man fell down.  It’s a pretty movie theater.  

5 thoughts on “Introvert, maybe

  1. Gina Narciso

    Hi Jen. This is Gina, we sat together at lunch on Saturday during the Katie interview. I reminded you of a friend. Remember? Wow, this was so heartbreaking and yet so telling. You have such a good heart, it takes a really special person to step out and help a stranger in need–it takes an extrovert. Which is why I think having a balance between the two makes you that much stronger. It was great meeting you!

  2. Stephanie ODea

    woah. I know you said this happened, but I didn’t get the true scale of what happened until I read it all. You’ve got such a good heart— what a lucky man. I’m glad you were there and not some pushy somebody trying to make a scene.
    I surprise myself at how introverted I actually can be. I can turn it on, but then need a few days alone to decompress and process. My favorite nights are in, watching reruns of the office with wings and pizza.
    I need to find a way to see you more often. I miss you.


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