I have, after almost 8 months of living in this city, come to the conclusion that New Yorkers have asbestos hands. Not because they’re often seen pulling a hot bagel out of the toaster (New Yorkers don’t toast their bagels FYI), nor because the restaurant staff repeatedly set down searing hot plates with their bare hands, but because of their endless hot and cold drink consumption.
No true New Yorker ever goes more than 15 minutes of walking down 5th avenue without clutching a drink in one hand. Whether it be a businessman with his classic paper cup of Joe, a lycra-clad Lululemon-ite with her cold-pressed green juice, or a sleep-deprived young parent with an iced latte, everyone is always carrying a drink of some description. I enjoy my walk from the subway stop at 14th street to my office door on the corner of 20th much more if I have a coffee in my hand. This is not because I know that this drink I’m clutching will keep my energy levels up for an extra hour of the day, but because, strolling down 5th avenue past the food trucks, the skyscrapers, the American flags, looking at the Empire State building in the distance, I feel like one of them. Like a true New Yorker.
But really, I still stand out. Because I don’t have asbestos hands. Whether I’m clutching a hot or iced coffee, I spend my time holding it moving my hand round the cup into all sorts of different positions, as my finger tips gradually burn or freeze. No matter what the weather is outside, the hot coffee will either be setting my fingers alight, or turning them into ice cubes. I always put one of those paper holders round the cup of hot coffee, but it’s still not enough. Sometimes I even pick up extra napkins to protect myself, but I still have to constantly keep my hands moving, to help avoid the risk of dropping my coffee on the sidewalk because my fingers just can’t take the temperature any more. If it’s an iced coffee, then there’s no cardboard holder option. Somehow I have to cope with holding on to a block of ice as I walk to work, meaning I arrive at the office door feeling like I have an icicle for a hand. This consequently means I can’t type anything for the first ten minutes spent sitting at my desk as my fingers are numb.
Another reason I don’t fit in is because I refuse to drink iced coffee all year round. For some reason New Yorkers seem to think that the fact that they’re trekking through a foot of snow isn’t a good enough incentive to switch to a hot drink for a change. Maybe they have asbestos bodies too. It must be a result of the vast quantities of ice that have been put into every American drink ever made or served in the history of this country.
One final reason why I stand out (and no, it’s not my accent), besides my bizarre finger hopping movements as I precariously balance my coffee on searing finger tips, is the size of my caffeine kick. Mine is what is called ‘small’. This doesn’t mean that it’s small. It’s actually fairly large. But for America, it’s tiny. Miniscule. Probably not worth drinking. Coffee portion sizes are fairly terrifying in this city. But my problem with the larger sizes isn’t necessarily the amount of caffeine in them (sometimes I could really do with an extra buzzing boost), but rather than fact that there’s no way of holding them. How would I manage to balance a larger cup on the tip of my little finger tip while I walked five blocks?
So I guess that until I get asbestos hands, I’ll never be a true New Yorker. If you have any advice on how to desensitize my hands to heat, please let me know. I’m trying to fit in, and this small detail is setting me back.