Service of What You Think of When You Walk Alone

September 21st, 2020

Categories: Automatic Actions, Charity, Generosity, Mask, Politics, Restaurant, Stingy, Walking


I was on a quick 20 block walk on Friday and jotted down a few of the things I thought of on my way.

Does the UN clean the flags outside?


As I passed the flags outside the UN I noticed that they looked shabby and needed to be cleaned. The UN General Assembly, in its 75th year, is largely virtual this September which may be one reason. Staff is no doubt busy cleaning the inside of the building to meet pandemic standards for those who are at work and will be attending meetings in person.

When I got home I Googled the question and while I didn’t learn the answer I saw that there are 193 flags arranged alphabetically–Afghanistan to Zimbabwe–from North to South and that staff raises and lowers them Monday through Friday at 8 am and 4 pm respectively.

Remembering automatic things

Waiting in line to enter Trader Joe’s earlier in the day I struck up a conversation with the woman ahead of me who said she couldn’t believe that she’d left her apartment without her mask. She was so lucky, she said, because a store across the street from TJ’s sold them. She’d forgotten three times, she said. I suggested she carry an extra as I do.

I’ve had trouble remembering whether I’ve fulfilled routine actions as long as I can remember. As a child I’d sometime get a sinking feeling if I was the last one out of the family apartment when I’d think, “Did I double lock the front door?” It was something I’d done countless times without focusing.

Restaurants open at 4 pm in Manhattan

As I passed by restaurants on First Avenue it took me a second to realize why so many serious ones are open from 4 pm-9 pm during the week: They must not attract a sufficient lunchtime crowd to pay for a second shift of wait and kitchen staff. We continue to have only outdoor dining in NYC.

Some affluent people are stingy and some of modest means are generous

I think about this a few times a year and haven’t found a valid explanation. What triggered my thoughts last Friday was how a friend said he’d donated to political candidates through ActBlue well over 100 times since the political campaigns began last June.  I know people who work hard and do well but are not affluent–they carefully pick and choose where they spend their money–yet they are munificent in their donations to charities and causes. Others with deep pockets, who donate neither time nor treasure, spend plenty on themselves but not others. They would time donations only if theirs was loudly acknowledged.

What do you think about when alone running errands, taking a walk or out and about in the car? Do you know how often the UN cleans or changes its flags? How do you ensure you’ve satisfied actions you should make automatically? Are the restaurants–not takeout–where you live open for lunch and dinner during the week? What’s the deal about stingy wealthy people and generous people of modest means?

Angelletto Restaurant NYC Photo:


10 Responses to “Service of What You Think of When You Walk Alone”

  1. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    Here’s what I think all the time when I’m outside and inside since Covid hit. I think I’m so lucky that everyone I know and love is fine! I think I’m so lucky to have the wonderful and thoughtful guardian angels, Alfred and Owen in my building. I think how lucky I am to have my two beautiful and talented daughters, even though they don’t check in that often. I think how lucky I am to have the most amazing women friends in my life. We check on each other almost every day. I wish the virus would magically disappear…although I know it won’t. I guess I try to think positive things. Why be negative now. Perhaps a smile will wash the pain and the gloom away!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You have plenty of positive things to think about!

    I, too, try not to think of scary and negative things about which I can do nothing but work myself into a lather which does no good to anyone. Sometimes I think of ideas for upcoming blog posts. In fact, I already have an idea for my Thursday post.

  3. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: Walking alone I think of many things. I pray, I do a grateful chant, I observe my surroundings. Regarding how people spend $$? I believe there is a huge emotional component (good bad or indifferent) as well as what is TAUGHT as a child. The emotional piece is B I G!! That is all I will say on the matter in an open forum.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I wonder if it is New York thing for a walker to observe surroundings. I have always done so, partly because I’m interested and there is so much to see and partly to stay safe. I recall one time many years ago when I lived in Brooklyn I felt a presence behind me for far too many blocks. I deliberately took a few lefts and rights and still felt followed. Eventually I went into a grocery store. That was that–no more shadow.

    Good point about how people spend money. There must be models a wealthy person admires who are generous. If their models are even richer than they are and that’s what’s most important they may feel they never have enough to be able to give something away–time or money–for “nothing.”

  5. TC Said:

    So glad you are enjoying the city you love most! As to UN flags–lifespan here for flags flown every day is one year before being burned by our maintenance crew. Beats cleaning them.

    As to actions, we rely on calendars and lists for reminders. But if something comes to mind suddenly, it must be done then, knowing it will be forgotten a few minutes later.

    On restaurant tipping, stinginess surely crosses all wealth lines. In the depression the importance of being regarded as having means is wonderfully illustrated by my father’s joke about eating at Horn & Hardart and picking your teeth in front of Delmonico’s!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I bet the same thing happens to the UN flags. Labor and dry cleaning are expensive plus the wind must destroy or weaken a fabric that is able to accept the bright colors required by the flags.

    I’ve been a lifelong list maker, following in my mother’s footsteps. Homer, however, despised lists and I imagine it was because it was easier for him to remember than to write. His dyslexia made writing a nightmare. When I juggled many accounts at once I would check my list at the end of the day and be so grateful for it as I saw that I’d not gotten back to so-and-so which would be my first call the next morning.

    I love your father’s joke! I wish I could match it. Unrelated but I’ll share a story I heard about one of my favorite relatives by marriage told about her dad. The joke reminded me. This person’s dad was dressed perfectly and by the best tailors. He always looked, as my mother would have said, “just so.” His business partner was the opposite. The man, an artistic type, looked like a bum in a period where men and women dressed formally by today’s standards. The partners were to meet in front of 666 Fifth Avenue where they were to eat lunch at The Top of the Sixes. The partner was there first and leaning on the building, he’d removed his crumpled hat. A passerby tossed a coin in it. Shocking at the time, we all had a hearty laugh envisioning the scene.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    It’s fun to have alone time and even more so when giving thoughts free reign. The rewards range from enormous to hefty consequences should inattention get one squashed by an “unseen” vehicle to enriching a pick-pocket. It pays to choose safe surroundings before enjoying the unreal.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    So true. Day dreaming can turn badly if in another zone.

    Focusing is crucial not just for the walker–though that was the subject of my post. In the day I drove around the city a lot. I’d be alarmed, going uptown on the FDR Drive, when suddenly I’d be at my exit and I’d been so deep in thought that I’d not noticed some of the landmarks along the way.

    As the weather cooled and perhaps more offices have opened–though the people I know are all still working remotely–there are many more people out and about in Midtown Manhattan lately. But because of social distancing if nothing else I would imagine that it’s slim pickings for the pick pocket during the pandemic.

  9. EAM Said:

    Montclair, NJ has been opening up for lunch/dinner. A friend and I went to McLoone’s which has indoor/outdoor eating and we sat at the bar.

    The coffee shops still are not open for eating/sitting inside.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    At 2 pm, late for lunch, I passed The Capital Grille on 42nd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues yesterday. They have many tables set up outside and there were only two women eating in a small patch of sun. Hopefully more ate earlier to help pay for the midday shift.

    It was chilly over the weekend. Outside dining is unappealing in the cool. Goodness knows what people will withstand to eat out when it is dark and cold. I worry about restaurant owners.

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