Teenage Wasteland

Today evening, with the TiVO set to record the Oscars, I proceeded to the laundromat to do the bi-weekly chore.

The laundromat is quite empty on a Sunday evening at about 7 pm and armed with the Sunday NYT, I plan to spend an hour and half in solace, reading the newspaper. How wrong and naive and stupid I was to think of it that way.

So here goes the series of events. I load up the two machines. One for colored and one for whites. The drums start spinning and the suds start forming.

I take my place on the couch….oh yes….a nice couch. You see this is a posh laundromat, here in Broooooooooooooklyn. A couple of minutes into the city section of NYT and I hear a teenager saying something to me. He is on the couch next to me. I turn around and realize he is not talking to me. But then….who is he talking to. There is no one within earshot. And why is he staring at his cellphone held up high above his head.

I ignore and get back to my reading. But again all of a sudden, there is another name called….”Jamal”. Keeya, Latisha, Nash, Vince, and Dad follow Jamal each at a one minute interval.

For the world of me, I could not understand why this kid was losing it. There he was sitting on the couch…..or rather lying down….in the laundromat, holding his cellphone above his head in his extended arm and screaming away names. I frankly thought there was something wrong. Then he gets up and walks to the door and comes back. And the same saga repeats itself.

Now I could have just ignored him and continued with my reading, but no. Curiosity is one of my virtues (or vices depending on the context and issues at hand). This goes on for a whole 20 minutes and now I am at a point where I want to go over and ask that teenager WTF is going on. Of course, I realize that the laundromat is a public space and he has every right to do what he wants. But then what to do about my irritation ??

Why is the kid doing this ?? Why ?? And of course my mind throws up an answer every second and negates it the next second.

The kid in the meantime leaves the laundromat with his mom and somehow I reconcile with my curiousity haggled mind and try to forget the sordid saga.

I finish my laundry, load the clothes, get on the motorcycle and ride away home.

And just as I am climbing the steps to the apartment, it clicks. The kid was setting his voice activated feature on his telephone.

So stupid of me not to realize that. And of course so wasteful of the kid to do this for nearly a whole hour, and driving all around (me !!) crazy.

This series of events would have featured prominently in the famous weekly segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno called Teenage Wasteland, and hence the name of the post.

A true……..only in NYC moment.



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