Letters From the Editor

The City is Smarter Than We

Last night I stepped onto the platform at 14th Street, ready to be on my way home to Brooklyn after a long day in the city. So were the other 2,000 people who were waiting for an eastbound train that would be – inevitably – packed full of passengers when it finally arrived. When there’s that many people waiting, there’s no way you’re getting on for a while. But just then, a westbound train rolled into the station. Aha! A chance to stick it to the subway system! My plan: Slip aboard the train going the opposite direction I want to go; at the next stop I’ll dash across the platform into a nearly empty eastbound train. I’ll probably even get a seat.

I hopped aboard my trick train, the doors closed, and we were off! For about 100 feet, anyway, when the train completely stopped. I’m pretty sure I could hear one or two trains go by on the other side of the tracks – the direction I wanted to go – in the time we sat there, dead on the tracks, for reasons they’ll never tell. The glowing sign in the ceiling on the car said it all.

We apologize for the unavoidable delay.

Finally, the train revved up again and set down in the next station; the doors opened and I stepped off the train, slamming my shoulder directly into some large hunk of metal hanging underneath the stairwell. In blinding pain, but still conscious and everything, I dragged myself across the platform to find: no eastbound train in sight.

And so I waited.

* * *

This morning on my way into the city I just barely – barely – missed my transfer to the express train. Knowing the way it likes to stop for no known reason in the tunnels, I figured if I took the local I stood a chance of catching up to the express at the Brooklyn Bridge stop. Now, I don’t know the local’s schedule or anything about its reliability, but not knowing seemed like better odds than what I knew about the express trains and their tendency to stand in a tunnel for 15 minutes or more.

We’d made it about two stops on the local, and then just stopped. Just stopped there, someplace underground. Near NYU.

I looked through the window and watched, patiently, as three express trains zipped by, its passengers eating donuts, drinking coffee, making good time, satisfied with their lot in life. I slumped back into my seat on the pokey local train, and massaged my tender shoulder.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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