I made it! After walking by the line snaking through Madison Square Park numerous times while vacationing in New York the past few years, I finally stopped and got myself in the queue at the original Shake Shack location. The line is as legendary as the food. I thought I made a smart move by going at 8:30 on a warm-ish spring eve instead of during the afternoon of a hot spring day. I waited 45 minutes in line and another 10 for my food. My burger and fries were worth the wait, but that line is killer. Be prepared.
As lovely as the weather was and as good as my meal tasted, the best part of my Shake Shack experience was confirming how friendly New Yorkers are. In all my travels, I’d never have said that New Yorkers were unfriendly; I think I just always noticed how direct they can be. Now that I’m living here and my interactions have increased exponentially, I can tell you that the directness is just related to the fact that New Yorkers don’t mess about. There’s no time to. There are places to go and people to see. So, you ask a question, you get an answer. You don’t know where something is, you get directions. You bump into someone, they accept your apology. There’s just none of the back and forth pleasantries with big grins that I’m used to. Which is totally fine. Because the heart and goodness is still there, it’s just a little bit sharp around the edges.
The heart and goodness I experienced at Shake Shack took the form of three lovely young ladies who stood in front of me in line. During the three quarters of an hour, we would chat every now and again. What did they recommend off the menu? Does the line move fast? Yes, it’s my first Shack Shack experience. I’m new to these parts. While sitting under the glow of the little lit globes waiting for my buzzer to buzz and alert me to Shackburger heaven, I got an invite to join them at their table. I completely forgot their names, but I had a very memorable meal talking to these friendly New Yorkers. Karma will return their kindness, and I’m sure it will be twice as awesome as a meal at Shake Shack.