The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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8:37pm on Thursday, 6th October, 2005:



I have to say, I've encountered more people in New York who talk to themselves than I have anywhere else. Just wandering around aimlessly, I'm almost guaranteed to pass someone talking to no-one but themself every half an hour or so.

I was just in Starbucks, while the cleaner came and did my hotel room. There was a guy in there at one of the tables, giving a speech. I thought he was on his mobile phone, but then his phone rang. He answered it, had a short conversation, then started chatting to himself again. Weird.

OK, so some of the people who do this are probably just irredeemly alcoholic. Many big cities have these people, and they come from various sources (those in London often seem to be <RACIST>ex-soldiers of Scottish regiments</RACIST>). If a city doesn't have them, it's either good (Scandinavian countries coughing up tax money to support their homeless) or bad (South American countries rounding them up and shipping them out of town where the tourists won't see them). I don't think New York has a greater than average density of this kind of person (in my experience, San Francisco outstrips it, for example); they do seem to have a greater propensity to ramble incoherently to imaginary friends, though.

No, it's the number of ordinary citizens who act in this oddball way that accounts for what I've been seeing while doing the tourist thing here. A woman in a shop discussing with herself the merits of a new blouse thing; a youth hanging out at a subway entrance making comments on the desirability of women walking on the other side of the street; a victim of plastic surgery gone wrong listening to a recorded commentry in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art who decided to argue with it ("no, no, that's wrong"); a tall man in a suit standing near City Hall saying "Tom Rogers. Tom Rogers. Hi, I'm Tom Rogers. Hi, Tom Rogers. Thomas Rogers"; a hotel maid in the lift discussing with herself which room to service next (she switched from Chinese to English when I entered, which was somewhat unnerving). I've seen all of these, and more.

The most startling was a police officer. I was walking behind him, and he was saying, "I can do it. I can do it. I can. I can do it. I. Can. Do it. I can, I can. I can do it". They give these people guns!

Hoping I'm not the only person who reads this blog...

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).