I’ve never been a fan of the NYC transit system. With its overpriced fares, overcrowded trains and constant service interruptions, I’d almost rather walk to where ever I have to go than ride the train. And I actually would, if I weren’t so lazy.
The subway for me is like entering the fiery pits of hell. My skin begins to boil just thinking about it and if you’ve ever had to take the subway in the summer you know that navigating through the urine infested tunnels is worse than being burned alive.
However, sometimes riding the train can be the stage for the many different characters that inhabit this city. Yesterday was no exception.
As the A train arrived at the 34th street station, a man gets on, who by his rhetoric I assume must be homeless. He’s yelling at nobody but at everybody and I turn my head to see what all the commotion is about. I look around half-expecting to see someone arguing but what I see is a tall man nicely dressed scolding us all for being in his “home”.
The man doesn’t look homeless, not that homelessness has any particular face but his clothes looked clean and he didn’t reek of Jack Daniels cologne, the usual giveaway.
He stood about 10 feet away from me and in the time it took to get from 34th street to 42nd street (my stop) I got an earful of some of this man’s thoughts.
He berated the passengers for being uninvited guests in his “home” and for sitting on his furniture reading our books and newspapers. “What are you all doing here, in my house”, he said. “You don’t see me coming to your homes uninvited”, he continued.
“Everywhere I go, you’re all always there. I get on the 2 train, you’re there. I go on the 4 train, you’re there. Now I’m on the A train and here you all are”, he yelled.
Clearly something was not right with him but I sat quietly in my seat trying to avoid any eye contact with him. I didn’t want him finger pointing me out. The last thing I wanted was to get into something with this man. You hear so many stories of crime and violence against innocent bystanders that I didn’t want to be today’s headline. So quiet and immobile I was. Almost as if I was in church and this ranting madman was the preacher.
“Don’t you all have a home of your own? Always at my house, you bunch of fools”.
At this point, I’m thinking “ok this man is really crazy” and I’m wondering why now of all times it is taking so long to get from one train stop to the next. Good ol’ NYC transit, you can sure count on it when you really need it. This man obviously has some type of mental problem and frankly I wanted to get off that train before I became his next victim. This is NYC, you never know.
He continued his ranting and started giving us all a math lesson. “You all think I’m crazy?” he said, almost as if reading my mind.
“Well, you’re the crazy ones”, he alleged.
“Paying $1800-$1900 for rent and your homes don’t go anywhere. I pay $2.25 and my home goes everywhere, Uptown, Downtown, to the east side, and the west side.”
“You fools are stuck in the same place all the time. Gotta come and bother me at my home”, he continued.
I look at the woman standing in front of me and you can tell we’re both thinking the same thing “this man is weird” and we both smile with amusement.
As the train approaches the 42nd street station and comes to a stop, I hear the man say “I was on vacation for awhile but I’m back. I’m back home now. I was away on a little island. Wanna know what island? Rikers Island”.
As I got off the train all I could think was “only in NYC”.