Monday, January 23, 2006

"Did You Have a Good Evening?"

The other night, I took the subway around 1 or 2 in the morning, and the crowd at that time is always kind of interesting. Most people are hyper and loud, a little drunk probably, and just happy from their evening, although I am sure some are heading back home after a whole evening working too... That guy who I sat next to was listening to his CD Player, and seemed in his own world, kind of purposefully ignoring the excitment and the noise that was filling in the subway car, but for some reason, he took the ear plugs out of his ears, asked me if I had had a good evening, to which I answered "of course I did" with a big smile, and I asked him the same. After his response, he just put them back on and returned to his own world.

I thought it was strange, because that simple question he asked was so much in contrast with his attitude. I wonder, if he was that curious of finding out about other people's evenings, why he would isolate himself (with his music) from the rest of us. It added so much "warmth", although it was only one sentence, to an activity (listening to one's music in the subway) I don't usually like so much because it closes people out of their surroundings...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Unveiled

Since I have been riding the 7 train on a daily basis, which is really for the past year and a few months (since I started working), the part of the platform of the 7 train that I see every day has been under construction, with big wood walls covering the work that was being done. This week, though, the wood walls have finally been disregarded, and subway riders like me finally got to discover what was being worked on: an escalator.

It stands there, all new and shiny (the workers were even polishing it one morning)... Let's see when it will finally function...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Share the World

This morning in the subway, I noticed a new ad that I had not seen before: an ad for Club Med, with the title Share the World... It was all over one side of the subway car. Funnily, it did not refer so much to vacation itself, so I thought it was pretty interesting, and it made me wonder what, from reading this ad, would make one go away on vacation with Club Med.

I was surprised when I saw in the AM New York of one of my co-riders the same ad, reproduced on a whole page.

Club Med must have launched a massive subway campaign: either one reads in the subway, and he or she sees the ad, or one looks around and sees the ad anyway... So no matter what, one cannot avoid seeing the ad. This is being efficient...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Drawing

This morning, as usual, the subway was packed, everyone holding to their little space around them - and to the pole... But of course there were a few seated persons, lucky them. One of them managed to stay sane even with the crowd around him, and was just drawing: a face that seemed to be coming out of his imagination, since he was surrounded by legs only... With just a yellow pad and a red pen, he drew an impressive portrait. I don't know for how long he had been riding that subway, but probably for a while, because it was more than a few lines on a piece of paper...

I guess everyone finds their own way of escaping the subway's "rush-hour experience": listening to one's i-pod, drawing, ... - and me looking at them!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Coffee Smell

As I was walking toward the front car of the 7 train this morning, I saw it was empty (while every other car I was going through was pretty full), and I was afraid of what I'd see (another man with a black mask over his head??!). No: it was just someone who had dropped a cup of coffee. The floor of course was quite dirty and the coffee was running through the floor of the entire car, but the smell of coffee was just amazing, even for me who does not like coffee... It was so strong, for just one cup of coffee... A good wake-up call!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Sea of Suits

This morning as I was trying to be in the office at 9:29 (!) sharp in anticipation of a conference call at 9:30, I rode the subway about half an hour earlier than usual. I suppose the crowd at that time is just different because I was surprised by the sight of all those (dark) suits as I was coming down the stairs to get to the platform of the train. Or maybe it just means that the fall and winter are finally there?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Metro Guy

Every morning, I feel so bad at the entrance of the station, when I have to say "no" to the Metro guy, or to the AM guy for that matter. They are obviously paid by the numbers of issues that they distribute, and all I can do is show them my New York Times as a good excuse for not taking their newspaper... I found out that they were paid by the issue when one day (when I was reading Metro and not yet the New York Times!), I wanted to "recycle" the newspaper and handed the newspaper over to the guy at the exit of the station of my last stop, after I had read it: he was so pissed!

I don't like either witnessing the competition between Metro and AM. At the entrance of my stop, the AM guy has much more energy and is much more outgoing, he also stands more ahead of the entrance than the Metro guy, and I think people like taking the newspaper from him. I don't know if it entices prospective readers to choose one newspaper over the other, but it is so unfair if the number of newspaper left on each distributor's pile each morning depends mostly on the location and attitude of the other... And not really on their own performance.

I have noticed the Metro pile was always the first to go (before this new AM guy came in at least). In the end, it may not be so much the distributor but the newspaper itself (I personally would prefer Metro). So many factors contribute to one distributor's own distribution and schedule (I think they are done when they have distributed all of their pile), over which they do not have much control...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Riding the Girl

As we all thought that no one else could fit in the car a few mornings ago, a young woman jumped in, followed a few seconds later by a really short weird-looking (he actually was not looking anywhere) man ("just a bum" like someone called him afterwards). The man's look and attitude were very strange, although with afterthought, I don't think there was much wrong with him: just weird, like there are so many in New York anyway...

The car, as so many mornings, was pretty full, and everyone could have had a little more space around them... But instead of sticking by the subway wall/door, he sort of "glued" himself to the woman, and as she was trying to get away from him, he would just move with her, making her in a very incomfortable position... The police man riding the subway next to me gave a few oral warnings to the man, but to no avail. At one point, she burst out: "he is riding me!" But another man defended the "bum", and those who witnessed the scene sided for one of the other. It got quite "hot", which I thought was pretty surprising on a weekday morning...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Trying to Fit In...

There are days when the subway is so packed, like yesterday morning at the time I wanted to get on, that however tiny one is, there is just NO room in the subway car. And experience had taught me too that waiting is well worth it: in the end, it turns out to really be a matter of a couple of minutes, which is not so bad for a much roomier and more comfortable subway ride...

That small woman yesterday definitely tried to get on the subway and she persisted. The doors would not close because of her, so she first pushed her butt in. It still would not fit, and the doors re-opened to re-close one second later. So she tried to move in her feet. It still would not fit and the doors re-opened again: it was not her really, but her purse was just too big. She got discouraged and stepped out. The subway left without her, but one or two minutes later, another subway came... with hardly anyone on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Cry Deep From the Heart

This morning, as practically always (what am I thinking every single day?!), when the train started, I lost my balance, with my bag in one hand and holding the New York Times in the other instead of holding on to the pole, and when I recovered my balance, I stepped not on the floor but on that poor man's foot. And he yelled... For one second, I thought I was going to hear every sort of insanity, as he gave me a very mean look, but as I apologized as much I could, he realized I really meant it and said it was ok. I made sure not to re-lose my balance during that ride, and I hope his foot is ok now...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Squeezed In Between Less (Larger) People

As I was, the other day, stuck in the subway between two "large" persons, and again today, it occurred to me that the obesity epidemic and the whole growing concern that it raises these days may impact the subway, as much as I think it already impacted airlines, which had to come up with some responses to take into account a larger number of obese persons flying.

True, the New York subway does not have assigned seats, so that is not a problem identical to that of the airline companies, but with more and more large people, the subway cars are getting packed with actually less people in them. Should this be compensated with trains running more often? Longer trains? I wonder if this is something that is currently being brainstormed by the MTA...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"This Is His First Time in The Subway!"

This is a proud father, on Sunday in the 2 train, telling everyone around in the car that it was his son's first time riding the subway. This really explained why he kept taking pictures of his son in the subway car (really, there is not much of an exciting background, other than the name of the station on the walls at each stop...).

The kid, about 3 or 4, did not seem too excited, as opposed to the father, who just could not help himself from announcing it to everyone and smiling as if that was the best thing in the world.

Other than a family memory, 50 years from now the photographs may be testimonies of what the subway looked like back in 2005. Who knows what it will be like then?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Get on the Local or Wait for the Express: That is The Question (Not Really)

Between taking the Express or the Local at an Express stop, it should not be so hard a choice: the Express goes faster than the Local train, so even if you don't see it coming (no light in the far distance of the tunnel...), and you are tempted to take the Local because at least it is standing right there, really you should wait for the Express. Eventually it will be there and it will then outspeed the Local train...

Most of the time, I stick by this rationale and resist the urge to take the Local when it is there and no Express seems to be close. But sometimes I do forget... and I am always screwed.

Monday, September 12, 2005

New Recruits

Today as I was riding the subway for the first time since Labor Day, I noticed a few new faces in the subway, of young people who seemed they had just started working, probably since last week. That guy across from me on the 7 was playing with his brand new blackberry, and reading the Wall Street Journal, probably something he was advised to do, as I was when I started last year... He still looked really fresh and excited, who knows what it will be in a few months...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Exercise Underground!

No, I am not talking about my gym that is underground... But about the 7 train exit to 42nd street and Lexington Avenue. From the bottom, those stairs to go to that exit of the Grand Central station look enormous and steep, and very few people (but I am one of them!) dare climb those stairs rather than take the escalator... In a city where everyone goes to the gym, I wonder why not more people climb the stairs rather than stand passively on the escalator: this is free exercise! I have heard excuses, like one does not want to get all sweaty right before getting to the office... But this is a bad one!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Change of Sound!

This past Sunday, I noticed the Chinese man who usually plays the "chinese guitar" on the platform of the uptown 1,2,3 at Times Square was playing on the platform at 14th street instead. I wondered what was the reason: money? I did not see how people might give more at the 14th street stop than at the 42nd street stop, when exactly the same trains run on that track... I wanted to ask him, but did not get the chance, as the train came, and he did not stop playing.

But when I got to the Times Square stop, I heard a trumpet: that was probably the reason why the Chinese man had changed station!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Holy Reading

Many times I ride the subway, there is someone reading the Torah or the Bible on the train, as part of their daily religious exercise. I always find it pretty fascinating: it requires concentration, as well as to be in a spiritual setting (or maybe it is just me), and to me, a quiet and more "isolating" place would be more adequate to a holy reading... I suppose those people are so much into their reading that they forget the rest (although how can one forget that he or she is not alone on top of a mountain but underground surrounded by dozens of persons...), and subway riders are many times so much in their own world anyway, "thanks" to their i-pod or video game, that it probably helps set those more religious people in their own world and closer to their God... I suppose this is just another way of saving any time available for busy (religious) New Yorkers...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"And Have a Good Day!"

That was the operator of the 5 train (running on the 2,3 track) this morning. He was so personal (what a change from the automatic voice!), trying to be as helpful as he could: "take the 7 rather than the Shuttle to go Grand Central," "that will get you off at Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street," and "by the way, the 7 is just downstairs when you get off at Times Square." "And have a good day!"

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What a Polite Reader!

Whenever the subway is really packed at rush hour, I just put down my New York Times and hang in there, wishing to make room for one other person, or just to leave some breathing space in front of me... But others keep reading, their newspaper wild open, that takes the room of one other person, or invades others' (so small) space - I feel this is so inconsiderate of others!

But the other day that man had folded his newspaper, such that it was not taking more room than necessary: he had folded it 4-fold, very neathly, so it was very easy to unfold and refold at the next page (I usually fold mine somehow too, but never that neatly, so it is always some trouble whenever I am done with one page and want to turn to the next). It did not go beyond his own space, and it was so considerate of neighbors! I wish more people were reading their newspaper the same way (and as for me, I am adopting that man's folding method tomorrow)...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Pick-Up Scene

The subway is a great pick-up scene, not that I know from personal experience (although I could find examples...), but just because it is a great mix of people and that often people ride alone, which is an incentive to talk (however rare this happens though) and look around... (Given the number of subway posts on Missed Connections, it happens more often that people merely look around...)

What I witnessed though a couple weeks ago was beyond what one would expect to happen: when I was not paying much attention, that guy asked that woman for her number and THEN went on with the regular questions, her name, what she does, where she lives... It was a really strange way of proceeding and I was not the only one surprised. When he asked for the number I thought he knew her, but when I started listening more carefully, I realized he did not - although she had given the guy her phone number, with no reluctance whatsover... Maybe the woman was too scared the man would get off at the next stop, and giving him her number first was the safest way to have a chance to see him again!