Cranky-Queen of the Subways

Going to auditions means I live on the subways. The good part is it’s fast. The bad part is what you have to endure while you are on them.
Last week, my worst fear, phobia, cringe-making, thing came true. A homeless man walked into the subway car. He was wearing a blanket that looked like it came off of a diseased Egyptian mummy. There was a hole in the middle where his head came through. It was caked with ancestral crud. He made one pass by me and I was OK. Then he started heading my way again and I saw it. He was gonna touch me. I actually swung my legs around and put them up on the seat to give him clearance. It didn’t matter. The scuzz blanket swept across my lap. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The other passengers were laughing at my reaction. Fuck them. It wasn’tfunny! I knew unseen vermin were spreading across my legs. I was horrified. I ran home and took off my clothes in the foyer and tied them up in a plastic bag and jumped in the shower. If I knew what fumigation meant I would have done that too.
Yesterday, there was a guy screaming for money at the top of his lungs in the subway car. After he had passed me, I looked up at his back and he was wearing a Day-Glo orange jacket with the words PSYCH WARD and inmate number 126-53-42 printed on the back. Guess the Day-Glo orange didn’t keep him from escaping into the anonymity of the subways.

I love New York. Nobody bothers you if you are famous, and nobody bothers you if you are batshit crazy. You gotta be a little tough to take it all.

Especially after 9/11. When everyday felt like it might be my last day when I got on the subway. I was freaked out. I saw a billboard for The New York Times and I read “Expect The WORST”. “Wow, that’s harsh,” I thought. It said, “Expect the WORLD.” I was experiencing some sort of psychic overlay when I read signs. I saw another one that said, “It’s your city. Don’t let the TERRORISTS have all the fun.” And I was like, “What? That’s kind of weird, the TERRORISTS have all the fun?” And I looked back again and it was TOURISTS. Don’t let the TOURISTS have all the fun. I was so freaked out , I couldn’t even read anymore.
And still, even now, they keep saying, “If you see something, say something.” I still have no idea who the hell we’re supposed to tell on the subway. You ever see anyone? There’s like one driver on a train of fifteen cars. So, if you started walking in one direction to find someone when you saw something scary, if you didn’t die while walking between the cars, when you got to the end, chances are you went the wrong way, and then you’d have to turn around and walk all the way back, and by the time you’d finished, you’d end up in the Bronx at like Dyre Avenue or something, and even if it was a false alarm, you’d probably get killed because you ended up in a strange neighborhood.

One day, during the orange alert days, I was standing on the platform as the train pulled up. I had to choose which subway car to get into. I looked one way and there was a guy carrying two huge duffle bags. He looked like a terrorist for sure to me. The Bush administration had turned me into an instant profiler. He was Middle Eastern with a beard. I knew he had bombs in those duffle bags. Or some death chemical. I knew it. I looked the other way, and there was a really, really, really skanky, crusty homeless man. A man with body odor beyond human comprehension. And I was like “The terrorist or the homeless? The terrorist or the homeless? The terrorist or the homeless?” And you know what? I chose the terrorist. I chose the possibility of death over the certainty of olfactory repulsion. That’s how scared I am of vermin.

And everyone is cranky on the subway. No one is happy to be there. Except the Ipod people. The best is sitting next to someone who has heavy metal music coming out of their headset first thing in the morning. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!

I actually once witnessed a man chasing another man with a knife in the subway cars. Everyone stared at their feet, believe you me.
And on top of it all, the fluorescent lighting down there is totally unflattering. So I suggest you never do a makeup check when you are in the car. You will be frightened by what you see. Especially if you are on the way to an audition. Makes you want to turn around and go home. “They are gonna film THIS?” you ask yourself. It’s quite possible that installing beauty lighting in the subways might lead to a major reduction in crime.

4 Responses to “Cranky-Queen of the Subways”

  1. 1 Lisa Nicotra March 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I thought i was the only one that frightened of the homeless on the trains.That is what gave me my incentive to get a drivers license.

  2. 2 Elle March 6, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Aagh, I totally know how you feel about the diseased blanket (of the homeless guy). I wouldn’t have wanted it touching me either! And it sounds like you gave him ample room to pass and yet he still somehow got really close. ANNOYING.

    Hilarious about the makeup check lighting – so true!!

    Just discovered your blog – I look forward to reading more & catching up.

  3. 3 Gino February 22, 2009 at 12:05 am

    One of my earliest subway memories was a Hooker winking at me.

  4. 4 senior Pathwords Partner February 19, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    The worst is when you rush onto the train to get that last seat, and when you sit down you smell something funky and you realize it is the distinct odor of Bum bum.

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February 2009

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