I’ve realized that my original fear of the subway system was not overdramatic. Everyone warns not to ride the subway past 10:00pm, but cabs are so expensive! Whenever I can, I revert to taking the subway. The subway is fairly disturbing though. It’s disgustingly humid down there, and there are some festering people crawling around those underground tunnels. I have seen the strangest things on the subway, some of which I definitely wish I could un-see.
People throw their trash down onto the tracks, so between every train, you can watch vermin run in and out of the rails searching for crumbs in their feeding frenzy. These rats are so enormous that I’m surprised the trains don’t smash them on their way through. The first time I witnessed a rat and tram encounter, I jumped back because I pictured myself being splattered by the rat’s lost battle. Once the train passed, however, when the creature came out from hiding I swear it looked up into my eyes and, once again, began its never-ending search for food.
Overall, the rats are the least of my worries. The people are definitely the most frightening fragment of riding subway. I have a problem (more than just one, I’m sure) with taking pictures of these weird phenomena, so my phone camera is clouded up with “tunnel people.” With some of the outfits I’ve seen, I’m not sure whether to high five the person wearing them, whether I should laugh, or whether the outfit is worn in complete seriousness. Regardless, I keep my mouth shut, because you never know what these people are capable of.
I’ve seen a very patriotic man in full business garb, texting hurriedly on a blackberry, yet his dress socks were American flag printed. Then there was the magician wearing only a cape and his super-man boxers. He did one trick and then asked for money. I never carry cash with me, so I always have an excuse to not give bums my spare change. I’ve also observed a real-life pimp with a cane, a purple satin suit, matching alligator skin shoes, and a limp in his step (how old-school).
I realized the other day that the subway doors are not motion censored. I dove through the door at the last second and, regardless of the fact that my arms were wedged between the two doors, it did not cease to close. I still have some bruises. I guess I have some real door-shutting karma coming my way, however. I feel an evil happiness when I’m on the subway and I watch the doors shut on people. Today, a little boy and I made grinning eye contact after a small Asian woman cursed ineffable words at the closing door as she hit it with her umbrella. Once making eye contact, we both begin to snicker, and that’s when I knew I was surely going to hell.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. The other night around 11pm, en route to the Marquee, a woman buffalo’d her way by me. She opened the back door of the subway car (these doors allow one to pass from one car to another). I watched the woman move out on the platform between the cars. Here, without a care in the world, she ripped down her booty-shorts and started pissing off the train. I looked frantically around the train, but apparently I was the only one who thought this woman’s actions were out of the ordinary…
Alena Netia Horowitz