Take a walk across Williamsburg Bridge. Unlike the over-exposed Brooklyn Bridge, littered with hundreds of camera- obsessed tourists, a hike across the Williamsburg Bridge offers one the sense of abandonment in the city of 9 million.
It is relatively empty upon the graffiti- ridden bridge. Cars flow like river rappids under one’s feet, but other pedestrians are few and far between. “Stinki” wuz there and left his tag.
Few bicyclists ride the pedestrian way. No benches to sit on. The entire walkway is encased in a chain-link fence. No unobstructed view like on the Brooklyn Bridge and the structure gives one a sense of walking in a hallway of a maximum security prison.
Walked across it early last Monday. Wasn’t sure about where one gets on the Williamsburg exactly when walking, but I knew that Bedford Avenue, just outside my house, leads to that bridge.
Through the city of Hasidic Jews, one must roam in baggy gym clothing. They have nice public housing. The Jews, like queers, sure know how to fix up a neighborhood.
Taylor Avenue runs through the heart of Williamsburg. Crossed it like it were mine.
This side of Williamsburg reminds me of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Amish in black rush with curls blowing in the wind, on their way to some sort of temple service. The rest of the city is on their way to work.
I’m not afraid of shifty-eyes. Their wives with very clear white skin rarely pay the gentiles much mind. Wear running shoes when walking the Williamsburg Bridge. It’s over five miles from here to the island of Manhattan.
Made it to the foot of the bridge in less than twenty minutes. Wanted coffee. There are no Starbucks coffee shops in that part of Williamsburg.
An authentic Jewish pastry shop with a sign offering fresh coffee! Little pink and white candies everywhere and the smell of fresh leavened bread to die for!
Cappuccino machine caught my eye. Just push a button and poof!
They greet me. I nod in respect.
I hand the young cashier, a twenty – something non-convert, a $20 bill. He speaks in Yiddish to a man who looked like a Rabbi, sitting next to the shop’s streak-free bay windows.
The young cashier returns eight dollars in change to my red, cold hands.
“I’m sorry, but I gave you a twenty,” I said. This I knew, for I was fresh from the Chase ATM and the machines give out twenties.
He opened the cash drawer– “You are right. I put it where the ten goes. I’m sorry. See how God works?”
The Rabbi replied “I am really sorry about that. I wish that would not have just happened. He was listening to me and not paying attention.”
“It’s an honest mistake. No big deal,” I said, keeping my head low.
As I sipped my instant cappuccino while walking alone in the cold February winds atop the Williamsburg Bridge, it occurred to me that I never count my change, but should. I wondered how much I’ve lost in life.
I learned a lesson, reflecting up there, watching as city before me seems to melt in the morning sun.
Slow down! Pay attention!
I finished the large coffee halfway across the mile long bridge and decided that I was going to make this walk every day to my gym in mid-town Manhattan now that I’m unemployed. I’m going to stop for coffee every day at that little shop and may just try one of those pink candies.