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Subway Meditations

They are thinking of a fare hike for the NYC Subways. New Yorkers are complaining about delays. No one mentions the emotional roller coaster that riding the subway is. Especially for an empath. An empath like Cranky who after years of acting classes, yoga and dance is so attuned to the vibes of her surroundings that they have a marked effect on her well being. Fortunately, Cranky has a job that she can do many days at home with the dog. Because the office is on the 5/6 line, which for Cranky is the most depressing, dreaded subway line of all. Every time Cranky goes to the office she has to change at Fulton Street. And every time she walks onto the Fulton Street platform there is a guy playing My Way on the Trumpet. MY WAY. Playing badly. Every time. Is it the only song he plays? Or is there some kind of strange kismet that on the two or three occasions a week I am there he is playing it? That song brings back memories of my first job in New York as a cocktail waitress in the Financial District. The investment guys used to have cocktails, play it on the juke box, and sing along. I always saw it as an anthem for behaving badly. NO. NO. YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE IT “MY WAY.” YOU COLLAPSED THE ECONOMY YOU GREEDY FUCKS. You should have done it the right way. I was taking dance classes, acting classes and working nights. The finance guys were alien beings. Of course, I dated one anyway because he was devastatingly handsome (his brother was a male model). It was really great except when he talked. Which was most of the time. He used to talk about deals and being “on the horn.” Who says that? Grandpa? I finally couldn’t take it and told him, “To be honest, I don’t even understand what money is.” Oh wait, I was talking about the subway. But this is an example of the negative stimuli it supplies.

Then there are the beggars. I feel bad for the beggars, but they really have to beg somewhere else because the subway is much too tight quarters to give anybody anything because they might say “Thank you” and start a conversation. I witnessed a beggar woman on the 5 train who was begging and a man gave her a burrito. She took it and then asked, “Do you have a fork?” He said, “No.” She bent over and looked into his bag of burritos and said, “Yes you do. There is one right there.” He had to go into the bag and give it to her. Then she said, “What kind of burrito is this?” Only in New York would beggars require a Beggars Menu. She acted like if it wasn’t the right kind it might get tossed back in the burrito bag with beggar germs on it. The woman sitting next to me whispered to me, “He mustn’t be from New York.” He didn’t realize the danger of not being able to walk away from the talking beggar. We are all fine with tossing a buck in a can if we can keep on going.

Another thing the subway does that is cause for alarm is it takes you places you didn’t expect to go. Suddenly running over a different line with no notice. It is like being hijacked without a hijacker. I took the 3 train home the other night and it started stopping at unrecognizable stations. The guy sitting next to me said, “I’ve lived in New York for 42 years and I’ve NEVER seen THAT station.” He then said. “What the hell? It’s running over the W line? I’ve never even heard of a W train!” Cranky got off as soon as she could and wandered around the canyons of Wall Street until she found a cab.

So Dear MTA, is there anything you could do to improve the emotional atmosphere of the subways while you work on the delays? Pump Brazilian Jazz into the trains? Say you’re a 2 train and actually run on the 2 line? Lower the fare so I can give the My Way guy a dollar to STOP playing? Help!

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