Saturday, August 21, 2010

See Something (Nice)? Say Something.

Talking with strangers is a neglected free entertainment, requiring only curiosity and nerve. When initiated with a compliment – and without any agenda material, sexual or political (tough to imagine, right?) – such conversation is bound to lead somewhere interesting. Even a simple acknowledgment of someone’s existence can make that someone’s day.

It’s easy. Why don’t we do it more often?

A recent encounter had me renewing my vow to say something nice when I see something nice.

I went shopping for NYC postcards to send to Australian friends. Just outside Time (sic) Square Convenience on 42nd St. were two racks to twirl through. One featured cheap snaps – 5 for $1 – of landmarks. The other offered fanciful pictures of Gotham graffiti, open fire hydrants and street vendors – 2 for $1.

A thin woman with graying curly hair crouched near the second rack, refilling slots from an open briefcase.

“Do you work for this company?” I asked, searching the back of a card for a name. It was a woman’s name. “Are you the photographer?”

She looked up and slowly stood. “Yes, I made these pictures,” she said.

“They’re fantastic. Great work, Genevieve Hafner,” I said.

She smiled. “Oh, thank you very much.”

I bought six.

I wondered how she made ends meet as an East Village artist. I didn’t ask. But now I look for her each time I pass the shop. She’s known.

[Three pics above are my photos of the postcards created by G. Hafner; poor quality is my fault, not hers.]