Which is worse – being stuck on a train car full of middle school students all on a class trip, or being shoved up against a newly in-love couple?
I got to experience both today, and that is the magic of the New York MTA.
This morning, on my way to work, I walked onto my subway car and found myself surrounded by thirteen year olds. At first I didn’t notice. I was like, “Huh, why does no one on this train know how to stand?” as I reached for the ceiling, finding all the poles taken by people who looked like they were ready for a roller coaster to release. They were all holding on with both hands and looking at each other sideways, trying not to smile.
Then I was like, “There are a lot of braces and strangely proportioned bodies going on here…” as one of the boys in the group pretended to pick his nose and flick it at a girl. My suspicions were cemented when an older gentleman wearing a fleece vest urgently tapped the Booger Boy on the shoulder and said, “We’re the next stop.”
There was a flurry of excitement. I was shoved up against a group of four of them, three girls and Booger Boy.
“Oh my god!” said Booger Boy to a short girl with bushy dark hair, “Why are you wearing heels?”
She and her friends were all, “omg stoppp omgggg because I/we/she wants to, okay? Leave me/us/her alonnnne.”
“But you’re wearing heels. In Manhattan! That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
One of the girls laughed. “Oh my god, he’s like getting mad. He’s like, such a fashionista.”
“Shut uppp” said the boy.
They all started laughing. The boy turned red. The car was filled with the voices of tweens trying to sound like the voices of characters in Sex and the City.
I did a lot of obvious eye-rolling and made a big stink about taking out my headphones while looking at them judgmentally.
Regardless of how high I tried to turn the volume up, though, I could still hear them.
Then, on my way home from work, I got caught on a commuter train from Hell, packed to the brim with sad work bodies, young and old, all schlepping to Brooklyn. After forcing myself onto the train at the last minute, the doors just barely closing behind my ass, I found myself rubbing work bodies with a very passionate couple.
Not knowing anything about them besides our one, super personal interaction, I’d guess that they’d been dating two months, maybe.
They were leaning against each other, cheek to cheek, and whenever the train would slow down, one of them would go, “Mmm.” and tilt their head upward and the other would open mouth kiss them, using plenty of tongue.
Every once in a while one of them would whisper something to the other and they’d giggle.
I tried to show them, by clearing my throat tellingly and turning my body away from them as best I could (which wasn’t very best), my backpack’s corner pushing against them, that I wanted a refund for my front-row seat, but they didn’t seem to notice. They were all kisses.
By the end of the commute home, I was fuming. It was a packed subway car, and they just stood there! kissing! standing there and standing kissing there! I mean really. It was a good thing I forgot my Kindle today (okay I didn’t forget it. I just haven’t started a new book in weeks) (okay I didn’t finish my other book) (Godd.) because there’s no way I would have been able to read with their dumb love faces silhouetting my tablet.
I pushed past them extra hard when I left the subway car.
And that’s honestly the real magic of the MTA. It allows innocent, happy people (or maybe just people from out of town) (tomato tomahto) to live out their romanticized adventures in a state of public anonymity, and it makes grumpy disillusioned work bodies even more grumpy and ruffled.
And you know what? Everyone just has to deal with it, because New York: When it’s new, it is roller-coastery and high-heeled and love-inducing, and when it’s old, it can be cold and rude and grumpy AF.