When Nothing Positive Happens
El Penski, March 2010

When I was a kid, I used to hear braggingly the nickname "The City that Never Sleeps" for New York City. That sounded fascinating to a little kid. Later as a busy adult, once I had to take a night train to get into New York for a very early morning meeting. I got into Pennsylvania Station at 3 A.M. Rather than checking into a hotel for a few hours, I decided to take a nice peaceful walk down to the Battery Park. I thought that I could stop somewhere and get an early breakfast and read a newspaper, but I was disappointed that nothing was open. Most of the time, the only sounds, I heard, were the solenoids clicking as the traffic lights changed. For most of the walk, I did not see a single car or person except an occasional police patrol car. I felt that I had the whole city to myself. After about an hour of walking, a woman tentatively approached me but disappeared into the shadows with her pimp on the approach of a police car.

In fact, years before I had learned that there was nothing special about late night hours. When I was eighteen, I had a summer job in a big A&P bakery in Baltimore that made baked goods for the region. We worked at night so the baked goods would be fresh at sunrise. I usually got off work at all hours of the night depending on how busy they were. On my many trips home, I realized nobody was up late at night except a few drunks and exhausted bakers. In the middle of the nights, I saw many arrests and alcoholics staggering down the street and asleep on the sidewalk. Also I saw a drunken individual fall down a stairs.

Latter on, when I was in college; occasionally I would fall asleep as soon as I got home to my room, and I would wake up about 10 P.M. I often could find no place to get a little food but in a tavern. Usually some of the other patrons would want to talk, but the conversations were pitiful and depressing. Over numerous years of such chats, I never had an interesting dialogue.

Actually, conversations get more brainless as the time gets later. Also, I noticed that people who donít drink but play cards or spend their time with alcoholics develop the pathetic logic and conversation mannerisms of drunks.

So over time, I realized that late at night when people are wearier, drunker, and less rational, only negative things happen.

It is best that New Yorkers, in reality, sleep.

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