life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Becca attends college in "the city" (when a Long Islander says "the city", it's understood that he or she is referring to NYC).  Over the last four years she has learned to travel on the subways, commuter railroads, buses, and (her favorite) taxis.

Periodically I will be treated to a rant about how the trains are expensive, dirty, noisy and full of rude people.  I think she's looking for sympathy.   Darling daughter, you'll get no sympathy from me.
I am an intrepid commuter.  I have my train schedule memorized.   I know the best place to stand while waiting for a train to enhance the possibility of getting a seat.  My LIRR ticket and Metrocard are constant companions.

I can figure out  at least one alternate route for every train that unexpectedly goes out of service.  No "E" trains to the World Trade Center"?  Take the "2" or the "3" instead.  No train service on the Ronkonkoma branch this morning?  Take the bus to Babylon or cab it to Hicksville.  No service in Penn Station tonight?  Take the subway to Jamaica.  No PATH service to New Jersey?  It's water taxi time.

Transit strikes. . .there was an LIRR strike back in the 80's, I dealt with it by moving in with my grandma for two weeks so I could take the subway to work.  The NYC subway strike a few years ago?  I took the PATH from 33rd St. to my office in Jersey City, and found myself surrounded by commuters traveling from 33rd St. to New Jersey and then to the World Trade Center.

I survived:

--  having to take a bus from Jersey City to Port Authority when there was no PATH service after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center

-- the major re-routing of all subway lines in lower Manhattan after 9/11

-- walking from Wall Street to Penn Station (about 4 miles) in the summer heat during the 2003 blackout
-- the utter devastation of our transit system after Superstorm Sandy

And there were the smaller moments that brought me such joy:

-- afflicted with horrible morning sickness, I once had to get off the "E" train at an unfamiliar station so that I wouldn't throw up all over the train

-- the fight that broke out on the stairway in the Wall Street station was kind of scary, but what was even worse was my friend Mindy panicking over it -- a few months earlier she'd seen a man get stabbed while waiting for the Light Rail in Jersey City -- and Alan and I had to calm her down

-- the woman who was angry that I got the seat she wanted, who was going to "accidentally on purpose" step on my foot with her stiletto  heel -- until she realized the foot she was about to clobber was inside a plaster cast (and by the way, hobbling through the subways in a cast was no fun at all)

-- I have no problem seeing rodents on the tracks, but when a large rat came up onto the platform of the "A" train . . .

But the worst moment of my commuting life . . . Becca must have been about 4 years old, maybe 5.   My sisters and I had taken Becca and Jen into the city for the day.  We were in the process of boarding the train to go home.  I was holding Becca's hand when she slipped into the gap between  the train and the platform.    If I had not been holding her hand, if I had not been able to grab her, she would have fallen to the tracks below.  I am grateful that all I lost that day was her left shoe.

Funny how Becca was a part of my worst commuting moment.

So, darling child of mine, welcome to my world.  If you plan to continue to live and/or work in the city, you'll just have to deal with our wonderful transit system.

And may it never become a true horror for you.

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