In this work of microfiction, Álvaro Baquero-Pecino constructs a humorous portrait of New York in very real numbers: security cameras, steps to climb the Empire State Building, and so much more.
Three hundred eighty-one meters, 102 floors, and 6,500 windows. We know that more than 2.5 million people visit the Empire State Building each year. An average of eighty-seven couples get engaged atop its observatory every month. It’s estimated that the dimensions of an engagement ring are directly proportional to the unhappiness of the couple. Three out of ten women between the ages of twenty-four and thirty who are visiting New York for a weekend affirm that size does matter. It’s known that the building has 1,576 steps, and that the elevators are almost never out of order. It takes seven minutes and thirty-four seconds to walk from the lobby to the subway station. The newly betrothed can walk past 214 people between Fifth and Seventh avenues. The city’s subway is considered the dirtiest in this world, and those of other parallel universes. Recently, the number of complaints about its rat infestation rose to 24,186. On a bad night, a train car on the red line takes more than half an hour to appear, and no fewer than twenty-one minutes to traverse the eleven stations to the southern tip of Manhattan. On occasion, the noise from the rails reaches 106 decibels. More than 18,000 NYPD security cameras take pictures of passersby everyday. The new station at Whitehall is equipped with five escalators and twenty-eight granite benches. The Staten Island ferry transports more than 66,000 people a day. In the winter, the wind frequently exceeds 43.5 miles per hour, the wind chill dips to thirteen degrees below zero, and the fog during nocturnal crossings can occult all ninety-three meters of Lady Liberty. Nine people have fallen into the water under mysterious circumstances since the beginning of the year. Three out of ten women between the ages of twenty-four and thirty who are visiting New York for a weekend never learned to swim. It’s estimated that in the Hudson River, the weight of an engagement ring is inversely proportional to the likelihood of being saved.
"Statistics" © Álvaro Baquero-Pecino. Translation © 2021 by Sarah Pollack. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.