Gentleman: shakes his head.
Me: "You never close?"
Gentleman: "No. We're open 24 hours."
After spending nearly a year in Paris, where I was lucky if I had a store open on Sundays and after 9 pm, this whole "closing hours are for the weak" mentality has certainly been one of the many perks I've discovered to living in New York. Within a five block radius of my apartment I have three, 24-hour grocery stores - all of which carry a fine assortment of soy-based protein sources (makes you drool, I know,) organic produce and Burt's Bees cosmetics.
I imagine the dialog going on inside the heads of my New Yorker pals to be something like, "Why the hell is my favorite boulangerie closed on Sundays AND Mondays?" and "Why are we forced to sprint to our connecting subway train at freakin' 1am - on a SATURDAY night?" and "WHY ARE THERE NO CABS??"
(OK that last one wasn't an inner dialog but a blatant verbal complaint that we ALL had.)
Clearly this whole 24-hour access to essentially anything, anytime, anywhere makes for an extremely convenient urban existence. But it also spoils us - and not necessarily in a good way.
No where else in the world will one find this same kind of 24-hour culture. And while I have certainly enjoyed it, I also find that it makes me even more impatient than I already was prior to my New York migration.
There is something to be said for, well...waiting.
If stores are closed one or two days a week, or shut their doors before 9 pm, it forces us to plan our schedules, and (gasp!) wait around to get what we want. While it can seem inconvenient at the time, it also helps us to set realistic expectations, and probably leads to less overall frustration. Stores that are open 24-hours should be an exception, a treat even - not considered the norm.
When I lived in both Paris and Montpellier I noticed that on weekends, especially Sundays, the families were out in full force, playing with children in the park, going to museums or having long lunches at a cafe. Sure, sometimes it sucked if you wanted to have some retail therapy or get late night snacks on a Sunday night. But it also created a culture of patience and one where people naturally spent time with each other rather than out shopping or running errands.
So while I will certainly appreciate and take advantage of the 24-hour access I have here in New York, I'm not sure it will ultimately benefit me in the long-term. I'm inpatient enough as it is, and this will probably only add fuel to the fire.
But then again, I'm not gonna turn down the opportunity to pick up some chocolate cookie dough ice cream or have a quick pedicure at 4 am now am I?
Bien sûr que non!