I work in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY. I look out a third story window onto Broadway, the main street going down the center of the city. It’s entertaining all the time, but especially this time of year when the Saratoga Racetrack opens.
People flock here from all over the place. Most of the license plates are from the east coast or Kentucky. I covet my reserved parking space because drivers squeeze their cars in wherever they can. Every lost out-of-towner for themselves! During lunch I’m entertained by watching couples bicker in the front seats of their SUV, one holding a map and the other making frustrated hand gestures. I munch on my sandwich while they try to figure out how to be relaxed around here.
They come for the track, but they also come for the relative glitz and glamour of Saratoga Springs. No, it’s not Rodeo Drive. However, there is a lot going on around here and a lot of neat places to go. The horsey culture makes some older women wear big hats. AND not just the ones from Kentucky!
Horse status have been popping up around Broadway this summer. My least favorite would be the all black horse with the Pepsi-can-lined saddle. (Huh?) The mirror horse is my fav, whatwithallthe reflecting and whatnot.
But just below the guilded surface of Saratoga Springs lie the people who make the city tick. The chambermaids, the waitstaff, the receptionists, the data entry clerks, the delivery drivers. I interview them everyday. Most live within a 10 mile radius of downtown and they’re usually hesitant (i.e. afraid) to drive on Broadway. Most live just above the poverty level. They don’t like track season. I hear a lot of, “I would do it, but you know, it’s track season.” One time I answered, “I KNOW! Isn’t it exciting?!” From what I remember, I got an uncomfortable chair wiggling in response.
All this to say that Saratoga can’t pull one over on me! The ritzy horse owners and gamblers come and go like migratory geese, dropping their money along their annual flight to upstate NY. After they’re gone, it’s me and the unemployed chambermaid, talking about what’s next for her and how much quiter it’s been.