Summer in the City

June 22, 2007

So yesterday was the official start of summer and while the calendar may be scientifically correct, I tend to notice the arrival of summer by two other events.

The first way to know it’s summertime in NYC is that the subway platforms escalate to unbearably high temperatures. Combine the blistering temperature with the dank underground humidity of the seeping drainage water and you find yourself sweating while standing perfect still. For a person who read way too many fantasy and science fiction novels as a child (such as myself), the summertime subway becomes the stuff of myth. A dark, putrid cave whose heat and humidity are obviously caused by the demonic lava that flows beneath the tracks fueling the trains as we orc-wage-slaves shuffle and push towards another scrap of food in our daily toil to please an unforgiving Over Lord.

In many parts of the world, the subway platforms are air conditioned. Now, I’m not crazy enough to call for that kind of humanity. After all, the NYC subway is over 100 years old. An industrial sized fan is all we really need. Please.

The second event which signifies the arrival of summer in New York for me is a small change in my routine as I climb up the five flights of stairs to my apartment. Instead of just toiling up the stairs as usual at the end of the day, I find myself stripping off my clothes piece by piece, floor by floor as I head up with the rising heat. By the time I reach my apartment on the top floor, I’m half naked and it’s all I can do to unlock the door and prostrate myself in front of the air conditioner and it’s cooling goodness.

In many parts of the city, building common areas are air conditioned. Now, I’m not crazy enough to think that I’ll ever be able to afford to live in one of those buildings, but heck, who knows? I play the lottery. After all, if my landlord has the gall to leave trash in the hall outside my apartment — from the previous tenant — for two years and then to send me a note asking for me to remove it, I’m not thinking their concerned about the health and well being of their tenants.