Jan 17, 2009


Thursday was a bad day. Not because anything catastrophic occurred (other than the plane flying by our office and into the Hudson). Not because work was unmanageable. Thursday was a bad day for the sole reason that I had perhaps the worst commute in the history of New York ...

- wait on C platform for 10 minutes, no train.
- take B to 86th to transfer so I can still get a seat
- wait on platform for 5 minutes before train arrives
- train passes 59th St, stops (train in front pulled emergency breaks)
- train sits with me on it
- train decides at random it is now a D train and takes off on some unknown route
- misplaced in Manhattan and have to find my way back to 59th St.
- wait for the 1 train and take to 23rd
- run up the subway stairs, bus is there, run to bus, doors shut and pull away
- run after bus, LUCKILY with some strike of providence, he catches a red light
- run across the street to beat him to the stop, slip on snow covered manhole and land on right hip
- get up and run to bus
- arrive at work 25 minutes late

and just when I thought commutes could not get ANY worse ...
On Friday morning I took the stairs down from our apartment and exited through the "Exit Only" side door, which lets out into a cozy courtyard nestled between 2 buildings. Except on this morning it was more arctic than cozy. The door slams behind me as I continue on to the gate that opens onto 119th. I turn the handle, I apply due pressure - NOTHING. I try again - NOTHING. I throw my body weight against it. NOTHING. And I realize, I'm now locked into this isolated courtyard early in the morning.

The streets of Harlem are mostly empty and I'm freezing. I bang on the door, I try scaling the fence. I look for something to climb on. I reach for my cell phone to call SOMEONE, ANYONE who lives in our neighborhood (Matt had left) and realize I've forgotten my cell phone. I jump and knock frantically on the first floor windows that are out of my reach. I bang furiously on that damned Exit Only door. I start to yell for help. NO response. Between 8:05 and 8:27 I panic.

I'm going to be late for work. I might be locked out here all day. My mind conjures up the bizarrest of scenarios. And then, like a warm ray of sunshine on a dark cold day I hear "Hey, yokay miss?" Well... NO - I've been yelling "CAN SOMEONE HELP ME" for a good 10 minutes, but I'm appreciative of his inquiry. He doesn't live in my building or on my street, but he buzzes my super. NOTHING. I wait longer in this courtyard wondering if he'll ever return, and then he appears. He found a tenant to come and let me in - and this friendly resident came to let me back in. He asks as he opens the door "It's too cold for this... What ARE you doing out here?" - what did he think, trying to get a tan?

The mix of panic and adrenaline resulted in an uncontrollable outpouring of tears all the way to 34th, where I seemed to pull it together. I can laugh about being locked in the courtyard today, but I wonder, when did I become so entitled? (That is a rhetorical question, do not post a comment with a reply SISTERS).

I live in New York. Lines, delays, poor commutes and frustrating circumstances are as much as part of life as great pizza and yellow cabs. When did I begin to think that I deserved a perfectly timed, speedy and glitch free commute? It's not my right.

Now, telling the wayward youth blasting his misogynistic second rate hip hop over speakers in my subway car that he needs to turn his music off or get a pair of headphones- that is ENTIRELY MY RIGHT.


Oliver & Margy said...

This is an awesome post. I'm sorry you had to go through all of that, and I think being in NY makes us double frustrated when things go wrong. I blame it on the friction of the city. We're already on edge and then BAM, we fall in the snow. Way to rise above it.

familia Bybaran said...

That is hilarious and so sad at the same time. I don't think this is about entitlement at all for the record. It's just plain annoying. So funny.

Anonymous said...

This same situation used to happen to me all the time when I commuted to the city. It's so frustrating to be on a train and all of sudden they bi-pass all of the stops (including yours). Whenever this would happen to me, I would always walk from wherever I was able to get off at. I give you credit for trying another train line.
Here's wishing that doesn't happen anytime soon. (or again)

Jordan and Candice said...

How hilarious and devastating at the same time. You go girl.

angelique said...

you ask a question like "when did I become so entitled?" and then forbid me to reply?!! harsh...

I think this sense of entitlement with public transport is an effect of living in NYC - everything from sidewalk walking to cashier lines goes faster and more efficiently there, so that, when it goes in the least bit wrong, we get really annoyed - I spent a month in San Francisco without a car after living in NYC for 4 years and the thought that most frequently crossed my mind while interminably waitng at freezing bus stops for one of the 3 buses I took to and from work was "this is NOT how its done in New York"