New York City SubwayAs long as I’ve lived in NYC–forever–I’ve known some people who refuse to set foot inside the subway. They’ll take buses, drive cars, walk–do anything except ride what really is the most convenient way to get around this burg.

But I get it! The subways, for all their convenience, are intense. They’re also a daily exercise in getting along with others in very close and cramped quarters. I can’t tell you how often I have to grit my teeth as I ride in from Brooklyn to the west side of Manhattan.

Like this morning for instance….

A nicely-dressed woman sitting next to me was blasting loud music through her earbuds to the point where I could not concentrate on the book I was reading. And it was loud, crashing music, not easy listening. First of all, I can’t understand why anyone would subject themselves to that level of noise in the morning but…that’s not my business. Still, whenever this happens–and it happens with regularity–I have a fantasy of taking out a tiny pair of scissors and cutting the cord so to speak, cutting the wire leading to the ear buds so that suddenly all is quiet.

It’s just a fantasy. What I do instead is either move my seat or put my finger in my ear as I did this morning.

While all of this was going on, a homeless guy announced his presence with the usual spiel about being a military veteran down on his luck. If you don’t live in NYC, you have no idea how often this happens to let me spell it out for you–it happens every single day on every subway ride I take, sometimes multiple times. And….I am not exaggerating.

Now I’m pretty good at tuning these guys out but it’s not so easy to tune out the scary-looking panhandlers roaming the subway cars and, as luck would have it, I encountered one of those this morning as well. The kind of guy who smells just a bit, is murmuring something incomprehensible and half-falling against other bodies. Such a pleasant ride for $2.75!

Today, I could feel my blood pressure go up as this guy sauntered back and forth in the moving train but, after a couple of stops, he stumbled out just as quickly as he appeared. I swear, you could feel everyone exhale and the crowd’s blood pressure drop back to normal.

Other than that, my ride was fine. I’m used to it but I get why people avoid it. Too bad for them–they are missing out on an exercise in getting along with their fellow man, as tough as that is sometimes.


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