Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Somewhere To Cry About

Where is the saddest place in the city to be seen sobbing? As someone with an apparently innate ability to observe his fellow human beings at their lowest moments, I would have to say the grocery store: There is something about seeing a woman wheel a wagon through cramped aisles of processed foodstuffs, tears streaming down her face as she continues to fill her cart with the mundane items of our existence, that seems to violate the conventions of basic human dignity. (Duane Reade runs a close second for similar reasons.) Then there are the parks: Someone sitting on a bench, carefully unwrapping his lunch while quietly weeping, is a painful reminder of all the assembled heartbreaks we spend our days attempting to push past. And, of course, there is always the subway. And buses, which are even worse, mostly because you're on the bus. Come to think of it, pretty much every place in town is a sad place to cry. I once had the idea to start a business that rented out rooms on an hourly basis where people could come to cry without worrying about being seen by their roommates or partners or coworkers. Maybe now would be a good time to follow up on that.

Photo by Ed Yourdon, from Flickr.

50 Comments / Post A Comment

gumplr (#66)

Bawling with Balk, your host with the lachrymost

caw_caw (#5,641)

Also, crying in line at the post office

cherrispryte (#444)

I think part of what makes the grocery store criers and the lunch-eating criers so heartbreaking is they're not taking the time out of their day to actually cry – they're still doing shit. (Crying on transportation doesn't count.) Like, dude on the bench with your sandwich, weeping? Put your lunch down, spent a moment or 10 just thinking about whatever's upsetting you, and possibly trying to pull yourself together, then go back to eating. It helps. Not having the luxury to stop and cry when you need to (even if its in public!) is the worst.

garge (#736)

Sometimes a sandwich is less a sandwich than the nearest prop to cry behind! :|

Morbo (#1,288)

I have seen more people crying outside the INS building in downtown Chicago than I would like to think of.

Context is everything.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Morbo holy crap, I think I'm going to start crying right now just thinking of that.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

But what is the funniest place to see people cry? I would nominate the batting cages at Chelsea Piers.

gumplr (#66)

closing night of Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark

Morbo (#1,288)

@MikeBarthel Outside the Montessori pre-school admissions office.

@MikeBarthel Floor of the NYSE

@MikeBarthel Yankee Stadium.

sigerson (#179)

@Clarence Rosario – +1

#56 (#56)

Surprisingly, I was the only one bawling at the foreclosure hearing. And it was a packed court room. I could not even state my name for the record… augh!

garge (#736)

Would your hourly room rental place allow chooching? A friend wants to know.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@garge Therein would lie the drawback of the business model — hard to cry when the room smells like disinfectant. (I find.)

@garge is that the same as chunking? oh wait, what I though was chunking IS chooching. tx urban dictionary

jaimeleigh (#1,840)

As somebody whose sobfests almost always seem to occur on public transit, I have to say it is also somehow the safest place to cry. People just seem to get it…and while they don’t necessarily stop and hug you, they always seem to be there, on your side, with a Kleenex or a quick, quiet “are you okay?” Or maybe that’s just Toronto?

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@jaimeleigh In New York, people stopping to hug you is usually why you're crying on the subway.

rhp (#11,316)

@jaimeleigh Ahem: Dufferin bus. I am pretty sure that is the saddest place to do anything.

City_Dater (#2,500)


In New York, they won't make eye contact and won't speak, but they are there for you all the same. Twice I have been alone and crying on the train, and the person next to me has very discreetly tapped my arm and pushed a clean tissue in my direction.
Weirdly, being seen without being seen is incredibly comforting.

Heather Wagner (#9,797)

Sobbing at the Time Warner Center was a personal low point.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@heatherwag Gerald Levin! So nice to see you here!

Heather Wagner (#9,797)

@SidAndFinancy ha, yeah well I've been laying low. you know.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@heatherwag The Coop is just not that into you.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

Am I callous for laughing at little kids crying? That kid's face is hilarious, who's with me?

Bars = best and worst place to cry in NYC, all in one. True story: I was crying at Odeon, in 1994, at about 4 am, and David Letterman suddenly materialized and asked me what was wrong.

gumplr (#66)

jay, is that you?

Rod T (#33)

This seems obvious to me: The saddest place in the city to cry is at a cosmetics counter.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Rod T the pawn shop.

David (#192)

A friend of mine moved to NYC from Boston. Margaret was a dyed-in-the-wool Bostonian, having grown up on Beacon Hill in a huge house with rooms that her parents didn't think needed to be heated (or entered) since at least 1865. We used to peak through slits in parlor doors into dark rooms and see portraits of ladies that looked like Emily Dickinson on the walls. Dickinson was of course a person from Amherst, so never mind. Anyway, Margaret landed a job at JP Morgan (back when that meant something more than it does now), and had to do the thing that makes every New Yorker cry. She went about town without the proper adviser, looking for "a loft" to live in. Meanwhile, she was horrified to be told at the office that the people of JP Morgan do not wear "separates" to the office. A few days later, and not long after her move to NY, I came upon something unusual. A women was sitting on the floor of the subway platform in Union Square, crying. On closer look, it was Margaret sitting on the floor in her perfect navy suit. She couldn't handle it. A month of so later, she moved back to Boston. Last I heard, she lives on the Cape with her husband and hasn't needed to cry as much as when she lived in NYC.

Jryhzkidz (#627)

@David I guess I am an mean New Yorker now because I think this story is funny ( full dIsclosure: I'm a Masshole too).

Screen Name (#2,416)

I have long considered myself a friend to the crying-in-public person! Often, especially on weekends and Tuesdays, I wander the city looking for any opportunity to be a friend to all the crying people. In my experience, if there is one thing crying people don't like it is a good foot massage. Who knows why?
"You're obviously crying, so why wouldn't you want a foot massage?"
"Aiiiii, get the fuck away from me! Creep!"
Whatever. I have found that no amount of reason or physical force can convince a crying person to accept a foot massage. Don't even bother trying.

Naturally, you would assume that if foot massages are off limits crying people would at least appreciate the funny face poking dance. Incredibly, they do not! In fact, were someone such as a crying scientist (and here I do not mean someone who is a scientist who happens to be crying but a scientist who studies the crying) to take the time to study the crying-in-public person's reaction to the funny face poking dance, it could possibly be construed that not only does it make the crying worse but, in some cases, like that time on the R train, creates an aggressively hostile reaction in the crying-in-public person such that look who is crying in public now, me, and not a single person on this train can make it better by doing the funny face poking dance because, obviously, they have not been properly trained in how to syncopate the poking with the funny faces and short little hops and kicks no matter how you try to explain it to them between sobs.

It is true. Shaming can be an effective way to make crying-in-public people stop, but only if they are under 10 and staying with you for the weekend because your stupid ex-wife couldn't get a babysitter for whatever kind of medical condition she's getting treatment for this time.

Of course, when it comes to helping people who are crying in public, context is everything. A woman who is crying while walking hurriedly down 3rd Ave. and talking on the phone just wants someone to rip the offending phone out of her hand and slam it down on the street, breaking it into dozens of… welp, maybe not. A little boy who is crying while his mother drags him away from Duane Reade, like in that picture above, just wants someone to put lots of ice cream on his head. Haha! So much fun! Okay, look, it was just a guess. How was I supposed to know he has the mumps? A man who is sitting on the park bench just holding a sandwich and sobbing quietly needs a somewhat athletic friend of the crying to kick the sandwich out of his hand like a Kung Fu… Jesus! Sorry! Crying people can be unpredictably violent and very hurtful to their friends. But I don't mind. I just like to help people.

@Screen Name How do I sign up for your newsletter?

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Attention people who turn Awl things into books: Have you looked here yet?

Matt (#26)


sigerson (#179)

Obviously, sobbing while walking out of your former office building with a box of family photos and desk paraphenelia is the saddest place to be seen crying in public.

cherrispryte (#444)

@sigerson I kind of think no, because that is an obvious picture. Yes, it sucks incredibly hard, but at least passersby know vaguely what happened, and most would agree that is an appropriate time to break the fuck down. The "crying with no easily discernable reason" situation is, I think, worse.

It's right under our noses: the saddest place in NYC to be seen crying is at the offices of The Awl.

Oh wait, I know: Worst place, Conde Nast cafeteria.

Jryhzkidz (#627)

Outside the Animal Hospital. With an empty cat carrier. In the rain.

As part of my "Hi why I am I taking this class introduction". At grad school. During the first week.

On the street. In Chinatown. On the way to the passport office to fly to a sudden overseas funeral.

In the movie theater. After seeing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. With the boyfriend I loved who could never commit to sticking with me through thick and thin.

katiechasm (#163)

@Jryhzkidz I would like to hear this grad school introduction story.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

I once had the idea to start a business that rented out rooms on an hourly basis where people could come to cry without worrying about being seen by their roommates or partners or coworkers
Small flaw in that business plan as ladies' rooms already exist.

mishaps (#5,779)

@IBentMyWookie Speaking from experience, I will tell you that your co-workers all know why you're in there. There's a code of silence that prevents them from mentioning it, though.

DMcK (#5,027)

Can we have another post just like this, only about puking?

mishaps (#5,779)

There's a moment in Rick "worst writer of his generation!" Moody's autobiographical story "Demonology" where he recounts weeping on the subway after his sister's death. Just the awful aloneness of the image has stayed with me.

My own crying-on-the-subway moment just led to my quitting my goddamned job. So, we're calling that one a plus.

rhp (#11,316)

1. Value Village (not just crying – wailing)
2. Hallway outside hospital cafeteria (after closing)

Neither of those were mine, though. I prefer to wait until entering a crowded train station and parking myself in a two-hour line before breaking out in tears.

TableNine (#1,104)

I think crying in a Ricky's would have to be just about the worst. Or maybe that strip club by the Port Authority. Or by that giant cube sculpture in Astor Place.

GailPink (#9,712)

Sometimes I start crying on the bus or train if a Tom Waits song ("Martha") comes on my iPod. It is embarassing when that happens.

starwitness (#11,300)

Ooooh I am late to this game, but this weekend I cried in public twice! First, outside of the Parliament in Athens, Greece, in between someone selling donuts and a bunch of pigeons. Second, at the beach in Athens. I have also cried on the platform, on the suburban railway, walking to make the transfer, then on the Metro. That was a good hour-long bawl.

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