Good Vs. Evil: A Battle For The A Train

It is afternoon time at one of the most congested Subway Stations in NYC. Fulton Street. Transfers to the J, Z, 2, 3, 4, 5, C, and A trains.

The large army of Manhattan bound people move in a fast pace. It seems like their destination is the only thing on their minds. Following the swift, precise motions of the crowd, I make my way down three levels of stairs towards the train. Finally my last transfer. It feels like I’m almost home.

As I meet the last stairwell a loud “Whooshhh” noise echoes behind me. There it is, the star, the A train gleaming in rusty silver. The crowd rushes down the last flight of stairs. A few people look on dejectedly as they have surrendered the fight to reach the train. I launch off the stairs and begin a full sprint to the train’s nearest door along with a few others close behind me.

Victory! I made it! I am the first person waiting in front of the nearest door with a bunch of people behind me ready to take my place.

I watch relieved and happy as the doors open for my entrance. A large crowd of passengers empty out of the train car. As I wait, I start to feel a strong force on my back. A few people shove me forward and walk in the spaces passengers have left while exiting out.

A good versus evil face-off between The Lion King’s honorable king Mufasa (right) and the vicious Scar (left).

It seems like patiently waiting for passengers to exit is not the easiest way to handle getting on a packed train. But I chose not to force through the crowd of exiting passengers like everyone else.

As the final set of passengers empty out of the car a woman, about thirty years old, rolls a hefty navy blue stroller, and tugs her daughter, about four years old, behind her. I loom over in front of the door realizing more than ever that I deserve a spot on this train.

The woman loudly babbles in Spanish as I step onto the train. She pushes forth with her stroller. I now realize I am standing in front of her daughter who is stuck in the train congested with new passengers.

Without a moment’s hesitation she yells, “How dare you step in front of ma daughta…How would you like it if I blocked you! You people are so obnoxious!”

It takes me a few seconds to become conscious that those words are for me. The blood rushes to the tip of my ears and my heart feels like it is about to jump out so she can step on it. I feel so horrible. Like an insensitive, obnoxious New Yorker that has no regard for children or their mothers.

The woman continues to call me names I cannot recall. She stays between the doors so she can amply shame me in front of the entire subway station. In a tiny split second, I was finally able to step into the train but right then an African-American man, about 6 feet tall, wearing long dreads and a black quilted bubble jacket, walks straight in front of me.

I thought he was just late in heading out of the train, but then I realize he is aiming in my direction.

I can’t get on the train. His body is pushing me back. My face is trapped in his black jacket. My eyes are buried in complete darkness. He grabs my shoulders and pushes me saying, “This is how it feels to be pushed Bitch.” The woman looks at me one last time and says, “Now she knows how it feels.” Less than a minute later, the woman rushes out of the departing train.

I finally enter the train. No one defends me. No one says a word. The doors close and I am on my way home.

Part of becoming a New Yorker means developing a consciousness about when is the right time to be pushy. There are a different set of rules in the concrete jungle. The law of the subway seems to be waiting to enter the train once all passengers have exited out. However in congested times, force seems to be the method in use by the majority. I patiently waited. And human nature lashed out on me.

So majority does rule.

But does that mean we should push everyone just because we all want to go home?

Yes and No. In this situation, the individual conscience is off. There are only two trains of thought.The passengers thinking “I need to get off. Now.” And the passengers boarding thinking, “I need to get on. Now.” And only one monster can win. Any individual caught acting out will be punished. Perhaps that was me.

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5 comments on “Good Vs. Evil: A Battle For The A Train

  1. Shoshanna says:

    Love this post! 😉

  2. Melissa Buchan says:

    Well written and by no means are you “insensitive, obnoxious New Yorker”! You’re one of the kindest people I know and it was an innocent mistake.

    Growing up in the city ironically makes us both alert and desensitized to our surroundings. The distinction is that we are observant when it comes to scoping out what is going on around us as a safety precaution, but we are oblivious when it comes to acknowledging that everyone around us is equally in a rush as ourselves. In the later, we solely concentrate on ourselves-where I need to go, what I need to do, I…I…I…- because it simply reflects Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” dogma of life. It’s sad to admit, but sometimes I think we dwell on ourselves and rely on the “I” because it’s the only way to get by in concrete jungle. We continuously reflect on ourselves because who else will? Who will help us to make it on time to school, work, internship, etc? And if we’re late, chances are that our superior (i.e boss, professor, etc) will not excuse our tardiness in light of understanding the circumstances. The others arrived on time, so why give us the benefit of the doubt? So, should we push our way through to get by or should we try to change the system from “I for I” to “you and me”?…which brings me back to your OWS post: “the world should work for everybody.” It’s moments similar to what you’ve experienced that make me realize that we live in a world where we all have somewhere to go and something to do. As you point out, it is no more important that I get onto the train than you do because we both have the intention of getting where we need to be. But, how can we shift into this mind frame when we’ve been programmed to “hustle” for ourselves? Any solutions?

    • Thanks Melissa 🙂 It was a sad mistake and I’m glad you can relate !

      I think a balance and sense of judgement is necessary when dealing with the hustle and bustle of city life. We often think individually and plan our schedules in order to utilize our very limited time. And I think those actions are key to daily life in the city even though this mind frame may be the root of the disagreements between two individuals. But I think the main point is there really is no black or white solution. I think as humans there will always be a matter of self interests conflicting with one another no matter if the system is changed. But it is how we use our sense of judgement and the way we balance our impulses so that we may fulfill our own individual goals and move along a city of people with various interests.

      On another note, I do think there are ways to ease congestion within the transit system that a large population of city workers use everyday. However balance and judgement are imperative in a situation when you might be in conflict with another person.

      • Melissa Buchan says:

        Well put Kamelia! I reread my comment and I feel like I need to retract some of my statements. I was probably having a hectic day (maybe trying to get through the hustle and bustle myself, lol) and so I think I came off a little extreme in my comment. I apologize for this.

        Although there is a pressure to keep on moving for city people, this pressure probably exists everywhere in the world to some extent. Hence, there definitely needs to be balance and a sense of judgement when hit with such experiences. These values certainly offer one a “reality check” when caught up in one’s own interests.

  3. Thanks Melissa! Your post is also well-said! I think that balance is key in this situation. It’s interesting to see the world moving at such a fast pace and realize that taking a second to look back is important. I think we all need to perhaps take a step back and think, “Where am I going with all of this today? Is this action helping me to fulfill my ultimate goal? Is this where I want to be?”

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