I returned briefly to New York City for the first time in several years.
Outwardly the city seemed functional. There were new upgraded technologies and prosperous people around, but also a sense of worried tension and brokeness. It’s the vibe I got from movies that depicted New York City in the 70s. A sense that things were out of control, that safety was elusive, and that it was best to carpe diem now because the end might be coming.
One surreal phenomenon that I hadn’t yet seen elsewhere were the rapid COVID testing tables everywhere. The Obamaphone hawkers had been replaced by folding tables on the street with men and women in implausible white garb hawking rapid tests.
And getting a large audience.
A line at the urgent care clinic stretched out the door and I even saw a rapid COVID mobile testing van.
While it might be tempting to attribute it to a new New Yorker neurosis (and indeed, signs warning people to press buttons with their elbows were everywhere and mask wearing outdoors was more common than any place I had visited so far), the people lining up for the tests were mostly minority. And I suspect were victims of mandates who had chosen regular testing over getting vaccinated. Some might also want to attend events or do something else that would trigger testing requirements.
There was a Night of the Living Dead aspect to the testing tables. A new phenomenon that seemed to have transformed the lanscape of New York City overnight.