The hospital I'll be delivering at is rather far north of 100th st- Columbia Presbyterian hospital and college are all the way at 165th. There are not many yellow cabs there, which I always find surprising, because it IS after all a hospital and people go visit and such. Heck, a long time ago when E was younger, he was hit by a cab and he used another cab to get to the hospital, so it's not unheard of for people to use a yellow cab to get to their ER or doctor's appointment. There ARE a great deal of "gypsy" cabs, cabs that don't take credit, often over charge, and aren't legally supposed to pick up people who did not call specifically for them.
So while I take a cab TO my appointments, I take the M5 bus back. It's almost an hour long ride, but lovely enough. Waiting for the bus, I stand and watch the goings on of the neighborhood. When I'm on the bus, I look out of the window and take in the surroundings as we head south.
I think the mistake some NYCers and outsiders make is basing their perception of the safety of an area on a certain level of polish. When you get south of 100, and when you get south of 90, there is a level of cleanliness and polish...and some would even say conformity. The northern neighborhoods have many more "mom and pop" stores. These neighborhoods are what you might call rough around the edges in that there isn't the same conformity or cleanliness. It has a grungier feel to it if you're used to, say, the upper west side. But when you really look, you see families and store owners and people just going about their day. I don't know the statistics, I didn't do the research to see if my observations from riding the bus south are right, but I'm thinking that people see these areas as unsafe based on their perception of order and cleanliness. I'm beginning to think that doing so does everyone a disservice.
When we finally were successful at obtaining a dose of H1N1 vaccine (remember, this had been hard to find; so hard that even my OB did not have access to it, and I called around to six different places before finally finding one clinic that had it. This was around 4:00pm, so daylight was fading fast), I wanted to wait to go until the next morning, but E said "let's get this while the getting is good". So we hopped in a cab and went over to the clinic. The people on the streets outside the clinic were friendly, and smiled and nodded at the site of my pregnant belly. A building attendant held the elevator door for us. Inside the clinic, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful. They promised us that although it was late in the day, they had plenty of doses and would make sure that we did not leave without getting what we came for.
Surprisingly, they insisted E get vaccinated as well. Knowing how short supplies were, he was hesitant and stated that he felt it would be better if another pregnant woman or city health care worker in the neighborhood got the dose. However, the nurse insisted that he take it. She assured E that it was entirely proper for him to be vaccinated as the parent of a young child, and that in any case, she was giving him a formulation that contained mercury and therefore could not be given to pregnant women or children. After we were both vaccinated, the desk attendant gave us a list of services provided by the clinic and told us to come back any time we needed help.
On our way back, we took the subway and engaged a pregnant lady sitting next to me in pleasant conversation. Sine we were all the way at 3rd Ave (that's on the East side), we had to take a green line south. We got off at 57th and caught a cab cross town home. All in all, it was a very eye opening experience.
You learn something new all the time, here in NYC.