Lever House Courtyard in NYC

Received Thursday, August 6, 2009
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Physical description of caregiver:
Asian (possibly Vietnamese) woman, mid twenties, hair in mid length pony tail

Physical description of involved child/children:
Little girl around four, wearing a lavender small print "sack" dress. Blond hair, cut in chin length "Dutch girl" bob.

Address or venue of observed incident:
Corner of 53rd and Park Avenue, Lever House courtyard, NYC

Date and time of incident:
Noon, Wednesday, August 5th.

Detailed description of what you witnessed:
In this office building courtyard are a number of sculptures of Hello Kitty characters over 10 feet high. One sculpture is standing on a platform in the middle of a fountain, spitting water out of its eyes (if you've been there, you know the statue I'm talking about). This little girl was walking around and around the fountain, dipping her arms up to the shoulder, taking coins out. Her dress was soaked. At one point, she bent over, put her face in the water and was blowing bubbles. The front of her hair was wet. She was also walking on the rim of the fountain (had she fallen, it would have been into about 2 feet of water). The nanny was standing there, about ten feet from the little girl, facing out at Park Avenue (and away from the girl), talking on the phone. In addition to the fact that she was not preventing her charge from virtually drinking the water in this nasty fountain, and soaking her clothes, and walking on a slippery, dangerous surface, she wasn't even looking at her on this busy Manhattan street at lunchtime, where she easily could have been grabbed and vanished in a heartbeat. When I walked by again twenty minutes later, they were still there in exactly the same situation.

Description of vehicle, bag, stroller that may aid in identifying involved caregiver:
The nanny had a stroller she was leaning on, but I honestly didn't notice a thing about it.


nokia said...

this is a really good sighting. i used to work right by these fountains and have seen people spitting in them, throwing cigarettes in them and once i saw a homeless person with his hands in the water. its absolutely disgusting that a nanny would let her charge play in that water. i hope the parents see this post.

mom said...

Well, I was about to say that a little water never hurt anybody...but this sounds like it was dirty, disgusting water. Ick! I hope the parents see this. They need a nanny who actually cares at least a little bit about the health and safety of their child.

That said, what on earth is a park obviously designed to attract small children doing allowing the water that is accesible to children to be so filthy? IMO, the city ought to regulate this a little bit. Where I have lived we have had fountains available for children to play in...with clean somebody like me might assume the water at a Hello Kitty park would naturally be safe, with potentially disastrous results for my children. Just saying...

just my opinion said...

Ok, not to be an ass. You say she was Asian, fine. But why "possibly Vietnamese". Are you able to tell Asians apart? Do you realize that most Asians cannot tell other Asians apart?

Sorry, but that hit me wrong. Other than that, great post.

NannyJ said...

I haven't seen it but a statue of hello kitty spraying water out of her eyes sounds like it would have scared the living daylights out of me as a kid, just sayin. :)

This is a good sighting. At least the little girl seemed to be having fun...which is, of course, just a small plus in a very negative situation.

The possibly vietnamese statement: well, if she was asian...she was possibly vietnamese, right? haha. When I read it I was kind of hoping that the OP had some kind of backing to that statement, because I figured she would be eaten alive for it. Personally I think that often times it isn't too difficult to distinguish someone of vietnamese descent from someone of japanese descent (or etc.) or sometimes it is quite difficult...but maybe OP had some justification?

mom said...

One of our very good family friends is Vietnamese. He says he can often tell where an Asian person is likely from. Maybe there are certain telltale charachteristics of each type of Asian that, when present, indicate a probability that a person is from a certain region?

I know that there are "typical" distinctions between Scandinavians. They are subtle, and you will find people from every Scandinavian country who exhibit those characteristics, but they are "generally" associcated with a particular country. Swedes tend to be bigger boned. Norwegians tend to be taller. Danes often have rounder faces, etc. its nothig to do with any prejudice...just people being able to make a somewhat educated guess about where somebody's ancestors might be from.

Don't try to turn everything into a racial insult, please.

Wicker Park Nanny said...

There are defining characteristics to tell Asians apart. My best friend has spent years living in China and Korea and she's shared some of her key facial giveaways, like the eyes, nose, etc. I can most of the time differentiate between Korean and Chinese.

OP here said...

I didn't mean to offend anyone by speculating that the nanny was Vietnamese - I lived for many years in a country where Vietnamese and Filipino nannies were common, and this woman yesterday looked very much like many of the women from Vietnam I saw over the years.

To the poster who suggested the city should keep fountains in parks clean, this area is not a park - it is a public space in the courtyard area of a highrise office building. It's known for displaying avant garde art installations. The Hello Kittys are all white and kind of papier mache textured - they look like giant mummies.

Again, I didn't mean to offend anyone.

mom said...

All white with water squirting out of the eyes? Isn't that kind of scary?

MinuteMuggle said...

sounds scary to me. :(

OP here said...

Yes, they are gross. Then again, the art they usually have in this courtyard is a forty foot statue of a flayed open pregnant lady. Maybe she went into labor so they replaced her with the Hello Kittys while she's on maternity leave!

emily said...

OP, lol, your last comment cracked me up. I saw the statue of the pregnant woman at MOMA, and I actually found it to be beautiful. And mom, you are obviously not familiar with NYC. Having grown up here, I pretty much take it as a given that public fountains are dirty. It's also illegal to even put your hand into most of them. So if you allow the children in your care to play in them, you're not only jeopardizing their health; you're breaking the law.

mom said...

Well Emily, I do love NYC and have visited there many, many times. However, my kids are older now and not prone to sticking their hands in things anymore, so I haven't actually checked out the fountain water situation.
My daughter, at age 15, loves Hello Kitty (despite the fact that it is scandalously overpriced for the cheap quality stuff that it is)...but I think even at her age she would be creeped out by a giant, lumpy, white hello Kitty spewing water (or anything, for that matter) from the eyeballs! I'm all for experimental art..but really, what are some people thinking?! The worst thing I ever saw was an exhibit (that they made us watch a video of in one of my art classes in college)where a guy who wanted to overcome his shame at having a butt covered with multitudinous grotesque acne pustuules decided it would be both theraputic and artistic to lay face down on a gurney in a museum and expose his bare butt to all of the unsuspecting museum goers. Yup, that's art.
Maybe if he was to lie under the Hello Kitty statue and allow the cleansing waters of her demon eyes to wash over his infected buttocks, it would be an ongoing exhibit where people could check daily to see the progressive healing? Maybe on their way to and back from lunch? The only lingeriong problem would be where to move the exhibit during the winter months...the MOMA or the MET?

Marypoppin'pills said...

Mom! That was funny as hell, lmao! Thank you for giving me the giggles.

mom said...

MPP, You must have an artistic flair then! Seems artistic people are the ones who most enjoy such totally off the wall lunacy! (I knew I liked you! Now I have yet another reason why!)

You don't make sense said...

Most Asian people I know can tell which country another Asian is from. Growing up in an area where there were many Asians from many countries, even I, a non-Asian can tell where people are from many times.

So - Just my Opinion - basically what you are saying is that all Asians look alike? Maybe to you, but not to everyone.

Manhattan Nanny said...

Definitely the Soho branch of the Guggenheim.

IMO said...

Just My Opinion,
Don't get your knickers in a twist. I get that you might have, for some strange reason been offended by the OP's comment about the nanny being Vietnamese, but I know plenty of people (including myself) who would be offended by your comment that "most Asians cannot tell other Asians apart". That's just ignorant. I'm completely Caucasian and I can tell them apart with ease. You've obviously never spent any amount of time around people of different Asian descents because all of them have characteristics unique to the geographical area from which they come. The private school that I graduated from attracted many students from the continent of Asia (many came over and lived with "host" families that had children at the school), and I am now at the point where I can easily distinguish Koreans from Chinese from Japanese from Vietnamese and so on, simply by looking at them (nevermind listening to them speak). Another indication to the OP may have been the (unmentioned) fact that perhaps the nanny was speaking on her phone in Vietnamese.

Just an idea...