Friday, January 5, 2007

The Worst Place on Earth

OK I should clarify this, the title should probably be called "The Worst Place on Earth I have ever been". I am sure if I was dumped in the middle of Afghanistan or Iraq I would have a different opinion. Before moving to New York I always assumed Branson, Missouri was the worst place on earth. If you have never been to Branson it is a lot like Las Vegas. Only take away every person in Las Vegas except the fat tourists, the gambling, the prostitute flyer's, and the excessive stream of alcohol and this is a lot what Branson would look like. Well after the last few weeks I have concluded the worst place on Earth is the 86th Street subway station on the Upper East Side.

I hate waking up in the morning. Anytime I have any amount of time off my natural sleep schedule usually finds me going to bed around 3am and waking up after 11am, so the mornings are not my favorite time of day to begin with. At least in my previous life I had a little bit of downtime in the car on the way to work to gain my bearings before I had to deal with anyone. In New York you are immediately thrust in to a crowd of people just as angry as you are.

Also, a little fun tidbit about Manhattan. The Upper West Side is roughly two thirds the size of the Upper East Side. Yet the Upper West Side is blessed with three subway lines to connect people to the rest of the world. Of course the Upper East Side has one subway line which makes every station along the 4 5 6 line extremely crowded, especially the 86th street station which is the only stop for the express 4 and 5 trains on the Upper East Side. When the original architect was worried that no one would want to use his wonderful new station he was boldly told: "Ray, people will come Ray. They'll come to 86th St and Lexington Ave. for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up at your turnstile not knowing for sure why they're doing it. Of course, we won't mind if you look around, you'll say. It's only $2 per person. They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."

I recently just moved to a new apartment and moved further uptown and now this station is my only option to get to work in the mornings. This is the only NYC Subway station I visit on a regular basis that I get legitimately scared at times. Not of a mugging, but the station is so crowded I fear actually being pushed on to the tracks by the oncoming mob behind me, and unfortunately New York City subway hero Wesley Autrey does not live in my neighborhood to save me. The best way I can describe a New York City Subway station is if you have ever seen the movie "The Empire Strikes Back" it is what I imagine the Carbon Freezing Chamber would look like entering for the the first time on Cloud City. Only more crowded, dirtier, louder and more depressing. "Whats going on ...... buddy?" "Your being put on the 6 train"

This morning I was actually being pushed in two directions. The 6 train pulls in to the station and I was the third or fourth person who was entering. There seemed to be a nice pocket of room in the back of the car that reasonable people in front of me would have sought out. So the jackass walking in front of me, a very tall man, somehow made the decision that he really liked the area of the train right where the doors opened and just stopped. I literally had one foot in the door and one foot on the platform, not a good place to be. The guy would not budge, I try to go to the left but a girl with dreadlocks was not willing to move either to let me by. If anyone has ever been in this position there is really no time for politeness because the mob is pushing you into them. I do my best to squeeze by the dreadlocked girl so she is not trampled by the angry mob but as I make my way past her, even saying "excuse me" which you never hear in this city, she pushes me. I mean really hard. More of a 'shove' I would say. How do you react to that? Seriously I want to know, what is the proper response? Do I turn around and shove a girl that I am 7 inches taller than back? Do I look her in the face and cleverly tell her "Well the Jerk Store called and they are running out of you"? I invite anyone to comment on a proper reaction to this please. Of course I did nothing and went to my corner and sulked as I tried to pretend that I was really interested in the article on Busta Rhymes being out on bail in my AM New York. And oh yes, people saw this. So it's official, I got beat down by a dreadlocked girl on the 6 train this morning in front of a hundred people. And when I think about what my normal daily experience is at the 86th street Subway Station in the morning and compare it with what happened today, I do find myself saying "Yeah, thats about right".

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