On the Q Train, 2012
Because I work from an office in my home, most days the longest commute I have is from one end of the house to the other. I did my time in traffic. I can’t imagine wasting time commuting in a car any more.
While in New York recently, though, I enjoyed riding the subway. I couldn’t have had it easier. There is a subway station three blocks from the house in Brooklyn where I was staying and a stop in Manhattan just two blocks from the workshop site.
Still, the commute took about 45 minutes each way, which left a lot of time for observing. Here’s some of what I saw:
· Five women sitting in a row, each with white iPod ear buds, each one tapping her toes to the hiss of a different rhythm.
· People in various stages of slumber.
· A man getting on the subway with two young children whose breakfast, consumed on the subway as it hurtled into New York, consisted of Tootsie Pops.
· A lady calmly applying makeup and finger nail polish as the train rattled and screeched and rocked from side to side as it rounded curves.
· A girl starting a self-help book chapter titled, “How to get Lucky.”
· No one talking to anyone else, except for the Russian guys from Brighton Beach who hole up at one end of the car and regale each other with tales of their great prowess with the ladies.
· People—women, mostly—reading religious texts, trigonometry guides, romance novels and magazines in Hebrew, English, French, Polish and Russian.
· Young women, perhaps struck by a fleeting moment of contrition after reading her Bible, standing up long before her stop and offering her seat to anyone who wanted it.
· A 40-something couple holding hands and lovingly caressing and dancing with each other around a pole. A wonderfully lyrical moment.
· A group of young African-American kids hopping on the train at Union Square and performing gymnastics and pole dances (not to be confused with the elegant moves of the aforementioned couple) and passing a hat for tips before hopping off at Canal Street.
· Two young men stepping onto the train at Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn, snatching several necklaces from around the neck of a middle-aged Latino woman and stepping back off the train before the doors close.