Subway Scene

Sometimes people hear the word travel and naturally think of flying, but travel does not have to include a plane. We travel everyday, whether it is a short walk to the bodega around the corner to get cat food, or jumping in a cab to make a doctor’s appointment on time. Ever since I was little I had a fascination with trains. We used to have trains in Trinidad but by the time I was born they were no more. I love movies with train scenes. Murder on the Orient Express is my favorite. It has everything: murder, mystery, suspense. I could go on but you should watch it and judge for yourself. Mostly, I find trains to be romantic, as though there is always a chance to meet someone handsome and mysterious.

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Cary Grant in North by Northwest

When I migrated to New York I was so excited to go on the subway. I knew that it would not be exactly like traveling in a sleeper suite on a train but I was still excited because it was close enough at the time. I was so impressed. My head was spinning around the fact that right below my feet was this other world. A city beneath a city. After all these years I still enjoy traveling by subway. Yes, there are days when I mentally curse subway traffic and wish I lived in a city that was more car-friendly, but the subway system, although less romantic, intrigues me more than trains. It’s like this living, breathing thing that keeps the city alive and running, much like how our organs keep us alive. The subways connect millions of people from all walks of life everyday. Of course this has its drawbacks.

I consider myself a very tolerant person, but certain things that take place on a subway car leave me baffled. My top nuisance is when I’m settled in my seat reading a good book, and suddenly music permeates the air. No, it is not a panhandler. That I understand. It is a man, it’s almost always a man, blasting music from his phone. My first reaction is to wonder what kind of phone he has because those speakers are loud. Then I check to see if he is wearing headphones. He usually is. Why? Why, sir? I watch him as he bobs his head to the music — usually hip-hop or reggaeton, but on this particular day he is blaring R. Kelly. This man is completely unaware of the dozens of angry eyes on him as he mimes the words to “Happy People.” If looks could kill. People suck their teeth, roll their eyes and sigh dramatically. One woman snaps her neck at him so hard it looks painful. But of course no one says anything, because if everyone else thinks like me they know not to mess with someone who is okay with disrupting an entire car of people for no good reason other than the fact that he simply feels like it. I suppose we should be thankful. Maybe he is trying to make our ride more entertaining. WRONG!

I felt most empathetic to the few people without their own form of entertainment. No games to play on their phones; no headphones; no books…in this day and age. Nothing to escape to or distract them from this ridiculously loud music invading the space. The most they can do is pray the DJ disembarks soon, or that the next stop is their own. Oh how they envy those who have reached their destination. Although many of the people who leave the car when the subway stops are simply running to another quieter car. I myself have done this many times, but not today. Today I was lucky enough to get a seat, and with it being rush hour I’d much rather suffer sitting down than struggle for a spot to place my hands. Sometimes the subway is so packed that I don’t need to hold on to anything; I’m being held up by other passengers, and there is usually a dude standing behind me, breathing down my neck. Occasionally I would feel something poking me in the back and I’d pray that it’s a gun. I shudder at the memory. Nope! I refuse to give up my seat. I will sit here and try to concentrate on The Grapes of Wrath until I get to 59th and Lex. Suddenly “Step in the Name of Love” starts to play, and I smile.

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The subway might not be as romantic as the train, but it sure is entertaining.

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