Author Archives: jcastillo19

Encountering Strangers.

Encountering Strangers

            Talking to strangers never really was my thing. I may seem as the type of person who could bravely go up to any person and spark up a conversation, but in reality I am pretty shy. For starters, I’m scared of how the conversation can go. I build up all sorts of scenarios in my mind that could make the conversation go wrong in so many ways. Would the person feel offended in any certain way by the question I’m asking? Or do they say one thing and their body language show another.

            For this assignment I first chose to interview the old school Italian barber around my home. My neighborhood was one of the unlucky ones to get hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Either way, people around the community showed lots of unity by helping each other out in the midst of darkness. Trying to get my life back to normal, I decide for a walk around the neighborhood with my adorable Airedale Terrier. I see the old aged Italian barber in front of his shop. As I see him from afar I don’t know what exactly he’s doing but as I get closer to him I hear the mild sounds of weeps. Immediately, my caring gentle side takes over and I ask what’s wrong. He responds by saying he’s had enough. I ponder at the response and he shows me the damaged done to his shop. The clear glass of the shop that has written CLIP JOINT is shattered and the barbershop seems to have some slight flooding. I have the audacity to ask how his home is and I wish I hadn’t. The poor man brakes down in front of me and says his wife is in the hospital because she had suffered a heart attack during the hurricane. He added by saying his brand new car is complete wrecked and the water damage in his house is so bad he’s staying over at a shelter. Immediately I felt compassion for this man and couldn’t find the words to say to him. I wished him the best of luck because I knew staying there any longer would soon bring tears to my eyes. He thanked me and I went on my way. Not once did we officially introduce ourselves but I sure did feel a lot of compassion for this old man.

            A couple of weeks passed by and I decided to go to see this years Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. That place is a complete mess. There were tourist everywhere and I began to regret coming in the first place, but I knew I had to at least talk to someone for this assignment. I settled for one of the people on line for the ice skating rink. He was the typical good-looking European tourist with the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing to go along with his good looks. At first I was hesitant to talk to him, I guess it was his good looks scaring me away. I introduced myself and explained the whole project for DNY and he agreed to answer any of my questions. The first question I asked was if it was his first time in the big apple. He smiled and said “Yes, and I am loving it”. That’s when I notice someone equally good looking next to him. I ask if they came together and he responded, “Yes, he’s my boyfriend. We want to ice skate for the first time here at Rockefeller Center.” It’s only then when I remember, of course, gorgeous men tend to be gay. I end the now awkward on my part conversation by saying farewell and thanking them for their time.

            I decide to forget about my interaction with the gay men by walking into an H&M. I love shopping and this is one of my go to places. As soon as I walk in I see these adorable pants I must have and I ask of the workers for help. Her name is Stephanie, and she looks quite flustered when I approach her. She apologizes when I ask her for a size 26 in the pants and says all small sizes are gone. It is then I take the initiative to ask her if she likes her job. She responds by saying, “I used to love this store but now that I actually work here I hate it. Honestly, I’m only here for the money. I need it to pay tuition. Between you and me, I should be getting paid double during the holiday season, but I’m only making 7.60 the hour!” I know exactly what it feels like to be in debt because of college and I feel a bit of sympathy. I give her a reassuring smile and say, “I know exactly what that feels” and walk away, because in reality I do. I hate minimum wage and wish college were just free like in the Scandinavian countries.

            During my encounters with these three strangers, I noticed that strangers seem more lenient to tell you more about themselves than they probably would let someone closer to them know. A great example of this would be the attractive gay couple at Rockefeller Center. They were open about the sexual preference with me, and I’m not even a tad bit close to them. In all, apart from being a overall shy person, I kind of enjoyed doing this assignment. 


Negotiating Public Space.

Jessica Castillo

December 2012

Discover New York- Professor Nicole Hala


Negotiating Public Spaces

            Thanksgiving is notorious to bring even the worst families together. Many people around the states travel hundred and thousands of miles to be together with their loved ones. The love for food brings everyone together, while food comas mean only one thing, ‘stories from long ago’. For others, Thanksgiving means getting together and planning your Christmas shopping list. Black Friday, ironically is the day after Thanksgiving, where most Americans say things they are already thankful for. Yet they still find the time to get on these ridiculously long lines over night to get their Christmas shopping done. This year I not only got to experience a lovely dinner with my family, but also got to experience the craze of the Back Friday shopping.

            We had spent a wonderful dinner at home, and honestly I was ready to sleep at about 11pm that night thanks to the food coma. Just as I head upstairs to my room I’m informed that we are going out to buy an unnecessary television for the basement. Notorious for great Black Friday specials, Walmart had a great deal on a flat screen LED television, and my brother had his eyes all over it. He convinced my father and sooner rather than later we appeared at the huge line at the Gateway Mall Shopping Center. I decided to tag along not just for the experience but rather thought it would be a great place to observe the crowd for my DNY assignment.

            Observing people really isn’t my thing. Yea here and there we all do it in order to be cautious of our surroundings but I have noticed people really don’t like to be looked at in this city. I decided I had to go about this in a very discrete manner and I thought I accomplished my goal quite well. On line, I noticed a lot of minorities especially African Americans. They didn’t look the type to be from a high class in fact I’d say they were probably low middle class. They kept mentioning how great it would be if they could use their ‘food stamps’ in their shopping’s. The clothing the men wore was quite stereotypical. Big, chunky, flashy chains with baggy jeans that revealed there preferred boxers for the day, and the Ralph Lauren tee or sweater. The women were more of the tight jeans that made some either look like they had the best body in town, or a stuffed sausage. They seemed more concerned with their hair more than anything. Most had their hair bright red, typical after Rihanna introduced the craze. The people behind me made small talk with me. They looked like they were in there forties and explained they were only there for the fun of it. They told me their story about how the got to this country and how the land of new opportunities wasn’t meeting their expectations. My background ‘music’ was the sound of hoodlums shouting and cursing, and I saw the disgust in the men’s faces. I knew they were still not used to that behavior, while for me it’s more of a norm even though I despise it. Once inside I saw something that quite shocked me. Two young African American males making quick cash. Not only did they have about 15 flat screen TVs but sold each one to desperate consumers in the chaos inside. The TVs were hard to get a hold of, and people did just about everything to buy one that day. Nonetheless, people were bound to go to these two young males and pay the price to have it in order to actually purchase it.

            At the end of the day we were lucky to find the television my brother wanted without paying the guys extra cash just to actually purchase it at the register. Everyone at Walmart was going crazy, and not only was it annoying to hear people scream but the feeling of someone’s breath was quite irritating as well. This was perhaps the first and only black Friday experience I will ever have. I decided that the reactions of many people weren’t much to my liking, and for me standing on long lines for something just doesn’t cut it. 

New York Experiences

Although I am a native New Yorker, I honestly can’t wait to someday leave this concrete jungle and settle down someplace else but my love hate relationship for New York will forever remain. The pushing on the trains and the rude encounters are extremely annoying and I will never get tired of hating them one bit. California is much more of an appeal because of the sandy beaches, amazing weather, and no trains packed with rude people. I will never understand the need to be rude in a train packed with people during rush hour, its completely ridiculous! Perhaps what we need is a total change, we should try going more green and decide to bike to work or school and forget about the uncomfortable rides. But i cant complain, New York would never be the same without the massive transit system. in addition, i’ve learned to have small tolerance for tourists. They should definitely come to New York prepared that standing in the middle of the street to take a picture of a not important building isn’t acceptable! New York City is fast paced, everything going on, here and there and a million people standing in the middle of the street is quite annoying. But with all my negative comments about the city thats watched me grow, i will forever be a downtown kinda girl. I can also say pizza will never taste better anywhere else than here in the city. And the typical cream cheese bagel in the morning, i will never get tired of it. At the end of the day, i know no matter where ever i end up settling in, I will always be a New Yorker at heart.

I’ve decided to add a video along just so you guys can enjoy a comical perspective of a New Yorker.