How to Ride the Subway in High Heels

42nd St-Bryant Park

As I teetered towards my subway stop, I debated my approach to my destination. Today is a “do it in heels” day after my flats got soaked in the rain yesterday.

I decide the C train is best, living at the end of the line has it’s advantages. It sits in the station empty until departure time and you’re guaranteed a seat, sitting is optimal when navigating the city in heels. It’s a longer ride, as it’s a local train and stops at every station, but I will sacrifice time in exchange for knowing I’ll have a seated ride.

When I get to the platform, the C is noticeably absent… but she generally doesn’t stay gone for long. I walk down the subway platform to where the front of the train will arrive, I know that all of my options for the rest of the trip are best served if I stay to the front of the train, and it’s more efficient to walk it while I’m waiting than to do it later. This will shave minutes off of your commute time, valuable minutes that you’re planning to squander on the local train.

An A, the express train arrives but I pass on her shorter but crowded standing room only ride in favor of the C’s longer seated one. She leaves me at the station.

I wait, and my desired C train stays away.

Another A arrives, so I take it. I waited long enough. I say a silent city prayer that someone near me gets up at the next stop so I can sit. I ponder my transfer options. To get to Bryant Park, I have several options…

One, screw the whole transfer nonsense and walk from 42nd and 8th Ave. This is my preferred option generally, I need the exercise but it’s not good for high heeled shoes or rainy days.

Two, get off at 42nd St and take the 7 train one stop. Good for rainy days, but bad for high heels. It’s nearly a block long walk underground and there’s a precarious steep ramp involved that I’m terrified I’m just going to topple over on one day.

Three, transfer to the B or D. This could be done one of three places, 145th St is no good because the transfer involves stairs. 125th is iffy because the train is likely to still be full. Lots of people get off starting at 59th St, it’s my best bet for a seat.

I choose option three… I get off at 59th St, and a minute later a B arrives across the platform. I get a seat, I go my two stops, and then I’m at 42nd St-Bryant Park. I note when I get off the train which car and door is nearest to the stairway so I can make for swifter exits in the future. Near the front, but towards the back of the second car… and this will bring me to corner of 40th St and 6th.

I note that the subway exit from the B and D is marginally closer than the nearest one off the 7 to the office. It only takes two street crossings to get to my office, where as the end exit off the 7 takes four.

These are all the little things you think about on the way to work at a new location, when you want to conserve every step. Soon, it will all become routine. I won’t even think about it.

Today’s Train Crazy

I was on the train going home from work this evening, nose firmly planted in William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, when all of the sudden I hear a slightly slurred man’s voice yelling, “ALL CHINESE PEOPLE ARE THE SAME!”

My internal monologue says “Oh great, we have a crazy ranting racist. What’s he going to come out with next?”

He then starts ranting about how it’s the law to give up your seat to an elderly or disabled person if they ask, and pretty blatantly directing it towards a Chinese mother who happens to already be standing, her two young children seated in front of her.

Someone ends up giving up his seat to the old ranting man to shut him up. He thanks them and then keeps ranting, repeating that “All Chinese people are the same!” over and over until eventually he finally shuts up…

Until he gets to his stop, where he yells at the woman again, saying the same things and he walks off the train.

She yells back, “Don’t say that about Chinese people! Can’t you see I have children with me?”

OH, MTA. Never a boring moment.

I’ve learned that sometimes you just can’t follow the logic of the crazy people who end up on the subway.

Because, you know… logic would say that if you’re old or disabled and need to sit down, asking the lady with two squirmy kids to move probably isn’t the person to ask for a seat.

And you know, the fact that she’s Chinese has nothing to do with anything in this situation.

Stuff like this isn’t exactly a daily occurrence, but it’s certainly not an unusual occurrence either. Every once in awhile you run into a crazy who’s got a bug up his (or her) ass about something entirely irrational and decides to let the entire train know about it.

It’s uncomfortable. It’s unsettling. Hell, it’s just flat out sad.

But after awhile you grow used to it… You grow used to staring down in your book or the floor, keeping on your poker face and ignoring it.

And now I fear I’ve frightened you all from visiting NYC again… Oops.

Singing in the Subway

One of the things that I absolutely adore about living in New York City is the buskers. I love the fact that there’s always the possibility of running into one while you’re going about your daily business, so often it brightens my day when I do.

On my way home this evening, I was waiting on the platform of the 14th St / 6th Ave stop for the M train and ended up being captivated by two guys and a guitar case that said Runaway Dorothy who were singing an old gospel tune, I’ll Fly Away (the rendition I know the best is the one by Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch that was in O Brother Where Art Thou?) which drew me a little further down the platform than I might have normally gone. I found myself singing along, softly, to the familiar song.

Then they went into Old Crow Medicine Show’s Wagon Wheel.

Oh, I’m a sucker for a little OCMS.

Next thing I know I’m singing harmony on the chorus and the M train enters and leaves the station without me giving so much as a second thought.

I can’t remember the third song I hear them sing, other than the chorus was simple and I figured out the harmony pretty fast.

Totally made my day to get to do that. Thanks, Runaway Dorothy. I hope our paths cross again!