Yesterday in New York I sat on a bench in front of the MacGraw Hill Building on Sixth Avenue, munching soy nuts. It was a beautiful Indian Summer eve, temperatures in the mid-70s, the lapis colored sky tranquil above the panoply of the Manhattan skyline. Under the bench in front of mine, a gigantic cockroach scurried about. I munched and observed, wondering why he was alone—I thought roaches traveled in packs. How long does it take a cockroach to grow to three inches long?
A man and woman sat down on the cockroach’s bench. When they noticed him, they freaked out, the man raising his gigantic foot, readying to bear down on the bug.
“Don’t you dare squash that bug,” I shouted, while the woman’s squeals grew louder. “Calm down,” I said. “He’s a bug, not a tiger. He doesn’t have gun. He can’t possibly hurt you.” I offered to trade benches with the couple, but they declined, instead moving to the furthest point in the courtyard.
Several minutes later two middle-aged women in stiletto heels sat down on the bench above the cockroach. When they discovered his presence they, too, reacted as if they were in mortal danger. I repeated what I’d said to the couple. “He’s unarmed. He’s harmless. Your reaction is completely out of proportion to the situation.” Again I offered to trade benches; the women accepted. You’d swear I’d just saved them from a burning building.
I sat for about ten minutes, people watching, cockroach watching. The cockroach scurried towards a garbage can where two very large men sat. Telepathically, I communicated with the bug. “You need to practice discernment here. Those guys will stomp you without a second’s hesitation. Come back here. I’ve tossed soy nuts all over the ground. They are super yummy. You’re not going to find anything better in that trash.”
The cockroach scurried away from the men into a crack in the concrete near my bench.
A few minutes later a woman approached me. Turns out, she’d been watching me with the same keen interest I’d been watching the bug. “You made my day,” she said. “You’re filled with love. Just like me. Thank you for defending the bug. He has just as much a right to be here as those people do. He’s one of God’s creatures.”
Then she pointed to the stiletto-heeled women who had both lit up cigarettes. “They’re smoking cigarettes, but worried about a bug being dangerous? Talk about irony.”