Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Just Another Night on the Subway

Oh, subway. I haven't written about you in so long. No, I don't mean the restaurant known for its delicious sandwiches and questionable weight-loss programs. I'm talking about the New York City subway, a mode of transportation that is almost mystical in its ability to be simultaneously the world's most advanced and most retarded urban rail system.

For those of you not familiar with the 3rd-class-steamship-cabin-meets-futuristic-cattle-drive experience of riding the New York City subway, let me lay down the basic rules for you:

1. Somewhere in your car, there is at least one person who is mentally ill; and
2. S/he is sitting next to you.

Last night I had one of those classic New York subway commutes, the kind where when you first board you are sort of mildly tired and looking forward to getting home and when you get off you would push over a baby carriage to get to a bottle of scotch. I got on the R at Union Square, but after it took 25 minutes to go three stops to Canal, I booked it over to the Q, making it just in time. As the door closed, I was feeling incredibly self-satisfied, while, unbeknownst to me, the universe was thinking, 'Sucker.'

Now, I'm not bragging, and I don't mean to offend you vegetarians out there, but if I had walked across the Manhattan bridge with deer carcasses strapped to my legs, I would have made it home faster than that Q train. We sat on the bridge for 45 minutes, at which point all of us got a little surprise. Remember a paragraph ago when I was talking about crazy people? Well, there are the obvious crazies and then there are the ones I like to call Sudden Onset crazies. They sit there like logs as you read your Us Weekly, and then suddenly there's a can of crazy open and it's spilling onto your seat. A brief dramatic reenactment:

Conductor's voice: Ladies and gentlemen, we are still being delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.
Sudden Onset Crazy: YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!
Conductor: There are signal problems at DeKalb Avenue. As soon as they are resolved we will proceed.
S.O.C.: YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!!! YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!! THE MANHATTAN BOUND TRAINS IS RUNNING NORMAL. GET A NEW EXCUSE!!! YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!!!
(When the conductor didn't respond to this personal attack, it continued)
IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME EXCUSE! GET A NEW EXCUSE! RAISE THE FARE AND THIS IS WHAT WE GET YOU'RE FULL A SHIT!!!!

(Ed note: Now, in crazy's defense, he had a point ... in fact, he was, in a way, speaking for all of us. But in a city that prides itself on hostile anonymity, screaming in a packed subway car doesn't tend to endear you to anyone. Also, his crazy eyes and drunken, guttural drawl didn't help.)

So to recap: stuck on a stalled, crowded train with a crazy person yelling at the top of his lungs. And the best part is that this is par for the course. Apart from making me pissed that I didn't bring any reading material, it doesn't really phase me anymore. Just another night on the subway.
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