Why The Long Face?

July 18th, 2007

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Apparently I forgot to bring my umbrella from my old apartment, so I waited for a break in the rain before heading out to the subway. It seemed my neighbors had the same idea, trickling onto the street, looking up to gauge how long before the rain started again. Besides being cautious, they also seemed a little edgy and paranoid, a stark contrast to the usual bolstered self-confidence living in a Brklyn brownstone provides. Granted, it’s a rainy, shitty day, but I didn’t think that was the problem, they all seemed wounded, expecting something inevitable and bad to happen to them.

We shuffled down into a ripe subway station and after a few minutes the F train rolled in. A man to my right slowly closed his eyes and sighed, resigning to something and as the train passed I saw the horror. It was packed, Charlie. Fucking packed. And when the doors opened maybe one person exited as a hundred tried to enter. It was disgusting. The last to make it on had to squeeze themselves over the threshold, tucking in their loose clothing as the doors slid across their bodies. Through the windows their defeated faces stared back at me. All of their self-respect stripped away. I couldn’t do it, Charlie. It wasn’t even an option. Getting on that train would reduce me from a sentient, self-aware human being to an animal, an animal mass-produced, tightly and efficiently packaged, and shipped out for consumption. Probably salted and in oil. So I waited for the next train. And the next. And the next. Finally, I decided it was time to try my resiliency. The fourth train, still as packed as the first, opened its doors and I stepped up to the gap. I looked down at the floor to see if there was enough room to stand, then I looked back up at the people in the train who were watching me, wondering if I’d do it and if maybe our bodies would be awkwardly pressed together and carted off to slaughter. I couldn’t do it.

I had to think quickly since I was already late for work and it was now clear that there was zero chance of boarding the F train. Then I remembered the G train also stops at my station, and I could take that to the A train, then the A back to the F, rendezvousing at Jay Street where most of the F train passengers would switch to the A train, and problem solved, empty F train! So I enacted my plan, and well, it worked. When the F opened its doors at Jay Street, everyone poured out, all with a look of relief on their faces. Unfortunately, when we finally got to Soho it was pouring again. So I waited in the subway station, having come this far without getting wet or demoralized, but eventually it became clear that I’d have to compromise. So I ran down Crosby, hopping between the small bodies of water pooling on the uneven cobblestone, but they were too big, and it was raining too hard. I had no choice but to suck it up, Charlie. So I slowed to a relaxing walk and got soaked.