January 27, 2005

People who don't care about subway rants should probably just move on

We New Yorkers like to gloat a bit when it snows -- you people in other cities have to dig out your cars, but we have subways! Well, the joke has truly been on us this week. On Sunday, neither the train within a reasonable distance from our house (the F) nor the trains that are really kind of too far from our house (the B and Q) were running; at least not where we were, in the land beyond where train tracks start creeping aboveground. (And then there's the whole mishegas with the A and C trains -- but we don't use those lines, so they're dead to us anyway.)

On Monday morning, the F was still kaput -- not that you would have been reasonably expected to know this, because the MTA hadn't posted anything about it on our token booth-free side of the station. One helpful commuter had pushed the gate closed and tied a handwritten "No F Trains" sign to it with red yarn. I ended up on the bus to the Q train with the woman who had written the sign; she pointed out the yarn in her bag. We realized en route that we actually had no idea whether the Q was running or not either, a fear that was only aggravated by the report of a girl sitting behind me who said that she had just talked to her mother on her cell phone and heard that there was no service this far out on the B/Q line. Well, terrific. And while her report turned out to be correct, things still worked out -- the token booth clerk was erasing the wipe-off board reading "No Trains" just as I walked into the station. The trains were alive again, if limping.

Coming home on the trains after work has also been a trial all week. On Tuesday, coming home latish after swing dancing, Rose and I waited an ungodly amount of time for an F train at 14th Street, a wait made particularly aggravating by the fact that trains kept arriving, just not F trains. Mostly, they were all D trains, trains which shouldn't even be stopping at 14th Street. And when they arrived, they just sat there. For ages. Arrrrrrrgh.

After such treatment at the hands of the D train, I felt extra-aggravated when the F train I was heading home on last night announced "Because of a sick passenger on a train at Broadway-Lafayette, this train will be going over the D line." This, after we had already sat in the tunnel for five minutes. Still, it sounded like an only minor annoyance: "For F train service to Brooklyn, please take the F directly behind this train." So, okay, I got out and boarded the next F, which did in fact arrive moments later. And then came the second announcement: "Because of a sick passenger on a train at Broadway-Lafayette, this train will be going over the E line, stopping at Chambers Street. This train will not be going to Brooklyn." Super. I got on a B and went to Church instead.

While the train can be vexing to the max, there are always bright spots. I was in a sour mood yesterday morning after waiting 25 minutes for an F to arrive (well, really I could have gotten on the one that arrived after 15 minutes, had I been the size of a pencil) and suffering through its sluggy pace into Manhattan. But when I transferred across the platform to an express at Broadway-Lafayette, everything suddenly got a lot more entertaining. Three black teenagers were having the loudest subway conversation I have ever heard in my life; they were all within arm's distance of each other, but they were shouting as if they were at opposite ends of a busy airplane hangar. The main participants were two siblings, a brother and sister. Apparently the brother took exception with the sister's sexual behavior. "YOU THINK I DON'T WANT TO FUCK EVERYTHING I SEE? SURE I DO! BUT I DON'T, 'CAUSE IT DON'T LOOK GOOD!" All righty! Point taken. A woman sitting down behind me leaned across the aisle to another fellow who was gazing in wonder and said, "They've been doing this for half an hour." Really quite impressive, if only as a display of pure lung power.

Posted by Francis at 12:10 PM | TrackBack

The best subway viewing I ever had was once on a crowded 6 train, when two large black women tried to grab the same seat, and one of them sat in the other's lap. They then jumped back up and started yelling, talking about disrespect, and then out came the cries of "Hold me back! Hold me back or I'll break her face!"

This continued for about 5 or 10 minutes until the thinnest, whitest college boy I have ever seen stepped between them, and in a nasal voice said, "Ladies, and I do use that term loosely, this is not the place for such an outburst."

Which was the signal for them both to go after him.

Posted by: katre at January 27, 2005 12:47 PM

On the Red Line heading through Dorchester one evening, I happened to be opposite a couple of young women. As the train got aboveground, of course, the mobile came out, and one of them started a conversation with (surmise) a fellow at the noisy party the two had just left. The conversation went more or less like this: "We're coming back to the party later, we're just going to go smoke a blunt. I said we're coming back later, we're going to go smoke a blunt! I SAID! we're GOING! to go SMOKE! a BLUNT! TO SMOKE A BLUNT!!! A BLUNT!!!!!!" (at this point she has taken an Altoids tin out of her pocket and is waving it around).
I was just happy to know that they were still called blunts. And, I suppose, that it was still pretty much the opposite of sharp.


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