Growing up in Southern California and South Florida and never having lived in a big city, my exposure to public transportation was limited. I did ride the city bus to and from campus in Gainesville because parking on campus was reserved for special people (grad students, rich folks and dormies), but up until the ripe old age of 23 I had never traveled a rapid transit system. My first experience was in Atlanta while I was there with my company exhibiting at a trade show. Our hotel was a long walk from the show site, which we gladly made despite the frigid January temps, but when on the first day I realized I had forgotten something important back in my room, my boss said, well you better go get it. And since he’d lost a bit of his patience already with me having forgotten it in the first place, he gave me some cash and said take the MARTA. But, but, but. The train? By myself? I don’t understand. You’ll be fine, he said, and then gave me that just do it look and since at that time I’d only been working for him for about four months I was still a little afraid of him (I’m way past that now). So I found the entrance and walked down the stairs and stood there for a minute mustering my independence and focusing my mind because the last thing I needed was to be calling bossman from the airport because somehow I’d wound up on an express train to the end of the road. Then I did the smartest thing ever – I asked the attendant to tell me what to do. Scariness over. Tokens in hand. Made it to the hotel and back and felt damn proud of myself. Over the next few years I had a handful of experiences on the ‘L’ in Chicago – some with Pete, some by myself – and then came this trip to NY…
Knowing that our three forms of transportation in the city would be bus, subway and foot (cabs are for fancy people) we had purchased Metro cards with unlimited rides for the duration of our trip, so we were armed and ready for some subway shenanigans. After a few days in the big city I’ve decided that the subway is pretty much awesome. Sure it’s crowded and sometimes dirty and there’s no shortage of weird people doing weird things and making you feel weird, but that’s all part of the fun! We rode the subway constantly and made a few novice mistakes, but for the most part it was perfection, and let’s not forget super cheap. Two fun subway stories:
On our first full day in NYC it was raining like a son of a gun, so all of the walking we had planned was put temporarily on hold and we did as much travel as possible by bus and train. On our very first ride on the subway we had our very first awesome experience. We got on the train at the stop closest to the Metropolitan (musuems are good for rainy days and apparently everyone else in the city agreed) and headed in the direction of McSorley’s (pubs are also good for rainy days). We were on at an early enough stop to grab seats but as we progressed the train grew crowded. We sat there quietly – there’s something weird about subways and not talking to each other – and watched the people. Then out of nowhere, from the other end of the car, we hear a top of the lungs holler… “EXCELLENT MUSTACHE!” All riders (apathetic locals excluded) turned their heads toward the direction of the holler where they saw a little old man in a cute little cap with a curmudgeonly countenance staring in the direction of the opposite end of the car. So then we all turned our heads to follow his gaze and there was this amazingly tall Austrian gentleman (we’re guessing on the nationality) in denim shirt and jeans (also amazing) with this fantastic handlebar mustache. Austrian dude tipped his head, grinned and hollered “THANK YOU!” And all went about their business.
“The Boob and the Pole”
After a long day of city exploration we hopped on the subway to head back to our apartment. We were pretty far south, so it was going to be a long ride back to the upper west side, but it was later in the evening and the subway was fairly empty. Right across from us however, sat a mother and her two kids – a little girl, maybe 4-5 years old and a baby boy, no more than 9-10 months. All was carrying on without fanfare; the little boy was smiling at us and the little girl was asking her mom a million questions – “when will I die, mommy? when I’m 20? what happens when I die?” (I’m so not ready for that shit). But then out of nowhere, mom yanks down the front of her shirt and there it was, a big ‘ol boob right out in the open. Of course I wanted to stare mouth agape, but I quickly averted my gaze lest she see me ogling. When I looked back the baby was now on the boob, but dang that boob was twice the size of that baby’s head and so much of it was still hanging out. Now, I’m a mother and I understand that baby needs to eat when baby is hungry, and I’m sure that I could kick start a whole heated debate about breastfeeding in public, but really lady? The boob out in all its glory on the subway for at least a full two seconds before baby hopped on? Get a blanket or something. So baby finishes, boob goes back under its shirt, and then mom straps him in to his Bjorn and stands up. About to get off at the next stop? Nope. She turns around so her back is facing us, grabs on to the pole above her head with both hands and proceeds to bounce up and down, back and forth, shaking, and I mean really shaking, her not so small ass in front of us while goo goo gaa-ing at the baby. The four year old had also stood up and was twirling around one of the vertical poles like a stripper. And this goes on for minutes, and it’s all we can do to not lose it laughing our asses off watching this mother daughter “dance” two feet from our face.
Public transportation rocks.
Elderland out, XO.