Riding Metro North. With Four.

5:40 am train.

Full.  How can this be possible?

I stand in the vestibule, irritated, and then remember that the 5:40 am train is a Peak train, and further remember that I’m paying a Peak Fare rate to Stand. Irritated.

I set my bag down on the muddy floor, irritated, and wait, hoping for someone to get off at the one and only stop on the express train to Grand Central.

I see a commuter to my right zipping up his backpack. I grab my briefcase, block the aisle (and the commuter who is waiting on the other side of the vestibule) and grab the open seat.  Commuter code: You snooze, you lose. Smiling. I’ve become a New Yorker.

I pull down the bench, a handicapped seat which flips up.  There’s an awkward shifting of knees and legs to avoid all contact. There will be no man-touching.

Two men across from me. Two men to my right. And me.

  • Sleeping. Reading. Reading. Sleeping. Reading.
  • iPhone. iPhone. iPhone. Not visible. iPhone.
  • Earbuds. Earbuds. None. None. None.
  • Sneakers. Loafers. Lace up. Sneakers. Lace up.
  • Baseball cap. Balding. Full head of hair. Hoodie. Balding.
  • Backpack. None.  Backpack. Backpack. Briefcase.
  • No watch. No watch. Wristwatch. Unknown. Smartwatch.
  • T-shirt. Business casual. Suit. Jeans. Suit.
  • Nails (grimy). Nail biter. Manicured. Unknown. Nail biter.

The train car is silent but for the rocking of the car on rails.

We pull into Grand Central and exit without an acknowledgement of the other.

4 head right. I head left.

I walk alone, down the tunnels, with the sound of my footfall on concrete and with Patricia Hampl (again).

“There may be no more solitary location in America than a New York subway—take a look at the faces of those commuters, their heads bent to their open books like monks at their breviaries, little glowing screens casting an otherworldly aura onto their intent faces. They are elsewhere. They are alone. Alone with words as much as any writer at a notebook or screen.”


Notes:

She’s 15.

The Magic of a Train

To the Editor:

Re “Our Trouble With Trains,” by Richard White (Op-Ed, May 19):

I love trains. I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and I ride the commuter train to and from my high school in the city every day. It’s been a year since I began taking the train; the charm hasn’t worn off yet.

There’s something magical about stepping onto the train — it transports you to a world where politeness is the norm. Talk in a lowered voice to avoid disturbing other passengers. Move your bags if someone needs to sit down next to you. Hold the door for the people walking behind you. The knowledge that choosing the train over a car helps the environment brings an extra rush of pleasure.

I adore this microcosm of etiquette and patience, and I feel that if more people experienced the satisfaction of a good train ride, they would be more willing to invest in passenger trains. Fixing our railroad system does not require us to suddenly leap to the level of the high-speed, luxurious trains in Europe and Japan; it could start with small improvements to the commuter trains that people take every day.

~ ALIA ABIAD, 15, St. Ignatius College Prep, 9th grade in Western Springs, Ill.


On May 15th, The New York Times announced An Invitation to High School Students, introducing a letter-writing competition where students were invited to submit a letter to the editor in response to a news article, editorial, column or Op-Ed essay in The Times.

Check out the other winners’ submissions here: The Voices of Students: The Winners Are…

Humanity Surfaces. All together now: Push.

gif-subway-push-stuck

A man got his leg wedged between the train and the platform while boarding a train in Perth, Australia on Tuesday.  Crowds grew, watching and then pushed against the side of the train, tilting the train car so the man could free his leg.  People clapped when the man’s leg was freed, and the train was on its way a few minutes later. The man’s injuries aren’t believed to be serious. (See full video here at ABC News.)


Image Source: 4gifs.com

 

 

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