Monday, July 5, 2010

Hot Town Summer in the Subway

With the temperature about to top 100 degrees in New York this week, denizens of this fine city, and those visiting are about to get a Howyadoin pimp slap in the face of what it is like to ride the subway in the summer in this town.

And it ain’t gonna be fun.

Throughout the year the train is a place of delays, reroutings, failures, breakdowns, and other such happenings. But in the summer, oh boy, the summer is when people go 7 kinds of bananas on the train. And that is when things are going RIGHT!

For the most part, people try to get out of the city in the summer. People with houses in the Hamptons, or a yacht, or a yacht named “The Hamptons” go do fancy shmancy things.

I do not have such luxuries. So I am subjected to the wall-sized-map-wielding tourists, and sweaty New Yorkers that cram the train for a ride to anywhere but here.

I would say for the most part, the subway in New York is well air-conditioned. It is often way colder than it needs to be. I’m fine with that. I have no complaints. It feels great when you’ve been outside in the ridiculous heat to step into a Dentyne Ice commercial.

Another fantastic thing about the New York subway system is the trains are equipped with windows. It is because of this tremendous value-add that all people on the subway platform can tell whether the train pulling up to the station is a half empty one you want to get on, or one so crammed with people you want to place a hex on it, hoping you never have to ride such a cattle car.

And you would think since its cramped full of squishy, hot, sweaty, smelly humans that people would not want to be a part of that. You would think that people would be so turned off that they would wait until an empty train came along.

You would think that and you would be wrong.

No matter how packed you may think the train is, there is always one person at the next stop who really wants to be a part of your sardine convention.

It never fails, that any time I am the last person to board a packed train I have no choice but to get on, and the doors close behind me nearly amputating my ass… some lunatic with 11 shopping bags, a stroller, and a backpack full of monkeys comes running for the doors as though someone announced that THIS was the train taking everyone to Tahiti for a month of massages and fruity drinks.

I understand that New York City is a place of very busy people on very tight schedules; I even like to pretend I’m one of them, but the trains come every 4 minutes during rush hour. How can every single person in the entire city be late every single morning? Are any of you reading this that excited to get to work that waiting another 4 minutes would absolutely kill you?

Here’s a hot tip for you: Instead of thrusting your now glistening corpus onto the train like its an Olympic event, why don’t you take the next 4 minutes to A. Catch your breath on the train platform, and B. Stop. Dripping. Sweat.

I understand people sweat. I admit it all the time. I am a sweaty human. It happens. I am not cool. I do not have dry armpits in times of great duress. But for the love of Snuggles, can you please turn the faucet off on your leaky face? I know to allow myself some extra time to cool off before I start sharing my salty epidermal rejection with 250 strangers on a shaky cart that makes Disney’s Runaway Train, look like a Radio flyer pulled by a mere cat.

Nobody is happy on the train. And the closer you get to your stop, the crazier you get. Everyone is breathing way too loud for everybody else’s comfort, people continuously touch your butt accidentally, and even though you know it was probably an accident, it still freaks you out and makes you want to scream like you were stabbed with a katana.

Even if you don’t get bumped into or touched, you are still pressed up against other people so you just start hating them. If there is a girl with a ponytail in your face, you start thinking every horrible name to call that ponytail. If she has a purple clip in her hair you start imagining 2012 like scenarios where that purple clip will cause cataclysmic events.

The other reason I have deduced that people love crowded NY subways in the summer, is the fact that even when a train has no air conditioning, that train will be completely packed.

Sure there might be one or two people who step on and then step off, but the rest of the people continue to stand on the train while fanning their faces so intensely you believe it is only a matter of time before there hand snaps off and smacks you in the face.

Nobody would stay in a hot sweaty room with no air conditioning, so why do people stay in a hot sweaty room on wheels with no air conditioning?

But for as bad as standing on that train is, it is far more dangerous actually trying to get off that train. People panic so instead of just an “excuse me kind sir, would you mind relocating your body so I might gingerly slide past you?” I get shoved so hard I am surprised the person behind me doesn’t get a penalty for an illegal block in the back.

It just becomes a big shove fest, and nobody can move fast enough. It makes me crazy I just want to leap off the train and scream at them that I am sorry I did not launch myself off the train like I was shot out of a potato cannon. I am man, not potato.

All insanity considered it is amazing people don’t walk more. But the possibility of a seat and some air conditioning is enough to make people forget rationality.

You would save more energy and stress by walking calmly in a straight line than running up and down stairs to spend time on a fully clothed Turkish bath wagon that will only make you more stressed out. So the next time you find yourself in such a situation, please, I beg of you, just wait for the next train.


A(nonymous) said...

RB, once again you put me in the awkward position of both wanting to see this glorious city you often speak of and simultaneously wanting to avoid it like there is a warrant out for my immediate arrest and imprisonment there. All I can say is... thank you?

DangGina said...

I've never been to NYC and experienced your subway in the summer. Sounds like a real treat, and once I make it to the big city (it WILL happen!), I'm sure to be one of those dumb tourists with the big map who accidentally touches your bum bum. Just sayin'.

I went to London a few years ago and mad a huge mistake on their subway. My friend Carrie and I had a few hours to kill before heading to the West End to see Phantom of the Opera; Carrie had seen all the sites of London on a previous trip, so she left it to me: Where to go?! I chose Notting Hill (because of the movie, yes). So we got on and all was well. But then...a few stops later, millions of people crammed on. I've never been mushed up against so many people in my life. And just when I thought, surely, NOBODY ELSE COULD FIT, 36 more people would cram themselves onto the train. It was sick. Really, it was hot and muggy outside, and we were almost to the earth's core where it gets boiling hot. Anyways, long story a little bit shorter: everybody in the entire city of London was headed to Carnival. Care to venture a guess as to where Carnival was taking place? NOTTING HILL. I'm not in charge of making decisions on trips abroad any more...

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Ugh, I hate it when people try to push their way onto the train when it's already crammed! Even if they know there's another train coming, they still insist on getting on that one. I'd suggest riding a bike, but then again I'm sort of scared of bikes.

TbR said...

This sounds all too familiar, except in London the underground's not even air conditioned - when you get on a train it's like being slapped in the face by a wall of sweaty heat. Nice!

JerseySjov said...

maybe if you really do start screaming about potato cannons on the train people will give you a wider berth. just a thought.

when it gets really hot out i get a very attractive sweat mustache that doesn't go away until the leaves fall off the trees. always a fun thing to see in summer photos.

The Girl said...

This post made me want to kill myself. I am a fan of personal space I don't like anyone getting in it, especially when they are hot and sweaty. And a stranger. (Although I've been known to make exceptions.)

It makes me glad Hull is never going to have an underground system because we're just not important enough. Hell we don't even have trams.

Anonymous said...

Public transportation makes me walk. I get too mad at all the people, so since I know they won't go away, I just extract my own sweaty summertime self and walk when I can. I squished a little dog in a sling once on the london underground; I decided lateness wasn't worth the crowding and/or small furry animals being injured.

Stephanie Ann said...

I have had a ghetto booty since I was 13 so the butt grazing wouldn't bother me so much. I do however have a small problem with claustrophobia, a large problem with people sweating on me, and a huge problem with being shoved. The subway is officially not the place for me.

It's All Good said...

see I enjoyed the subway the one week of my life that I was in New York, the idea of having a ride to baically any part of the state, and knowing that another ride will be coming along shortly if one is missed, made me very happy. In Florida, you have to drive everywhere, imagine, you want a bagel, yo dont walk around the corner, you driiiiive, than park, than get your food and drive back, bleh. But I'm in Jordan now, and with the world cup going on, its more like avoid the car with 50 flags waving from it and getting eye raped and playing frogger in real life (theres no pedestrian right of way here, or atleast it isnt enforced)... I think it's just summer in general!

DangGina said...

What the what? I left a lengthy comment on here last night, and now its gone?! Ugh!

I've never been to the NYC, but when I do, I'm sure to be one of those tourists with the ginormous map of the city, doing what I can to work the subway system. (Note to self: don't hit the NYC in the summertime.)

Great post!

It's All Good said...

and I like to pretend I'm a busy person with a tight schedule to, feels good to be needed somewhere ya know...

Cathy said...

When I visited New York several years ago-in July-it was so hot and humid in the subway stations that it was actually raining! Glad to hear it's cooler inside the trains, well, when you can actually move.

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

Although I sometimes hate and curse my car and the fact that we have no form of transportation around here aside from cars, bikes or our own feet (and generally everything is too far away for anything other than the car) this makes me kind of happy to have my car. Because my claustrophobia would not be happy with me on a crowded subway car.

AbBeYLeiGH said...

I love this. And I remember such trains from my trip to NY. The funny thing is, without fail, the next car is always dead! haha I'm cracking up right now!

jHack said...

Not only have you managed to hilariously capture the angst of the summer time commute in this deliriously overcrowded and overheated city, but you've also expanded my vocabulary.

I had to google katana. It's a Samurai sword, but you obviously already knew that.

As always, thank you for the laughs and the knowledge. :)

Nancy said...

Ugh. I have a touch of claustrophobia - this doesn't sound fun! The only time I used the subway was in October. Not bad, and NOT at rush hour.

Laury @The FitnessDish said...

Yuck, Yuck , Yuck at the triple digit weather..hasn't been too pretty in Philly either!!!!

I can not STAND the subway..last time I had an experience like that was when the Phillies won the world series and we went to the was UNREAL...never again will I do that, no air on the subway, a million people..sticky, sweaty strangers rubbing up on you...YUCK!

I WISH I were able to come to NYC to see your play!!!

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

Oh my lord, you NAILED this !! I am def. one of the crammers, I cram because it's painfully hot on the platform and you hope to the dear Lord above that there will be some sort of air conditioning on that subway, and of course you're always disappointed!!

Caroline B said...

I always buy a generic travelcard when I go to London which allows you to travel anywhere on the tube all day...then I never use it because I just can't face the scrum.
DangGina - oh dear, that was a silly move - any other time of year Notting Hill is so quiet!

Pat said...

You had me grinning through this whole piece. I can't imagine being crammed into a small area with wall-to-wall sweaty people. NO THANK YOU!

I've ridden the NY subways, but fortunately, not in the real rush hours. Or at least I didn't have to have my face in anyone's armpits!