Waiting for the Train (Originally written 2/29/16) - Short Story

New York God Damn City. Do you know how many people live here? I don’t know. But it’s a lot.

It’s so crowded.

That’s why I don’t like taking public transportation. You’re always in someone’s way or someone’s bumping into you or looking at you weird. But I don’t have a car. Lot’s of people in New York don’t have cars. Where would you keep it? So I ride the train.

The subway can get you pretty much anywhere you need to go, but during rush hour, it's the worst. Especially at a stop like Times Square, which is probably the busiest place in the whole God Damn City. At least four different lines run through there and the transfers get confusing and frustrating all at the same time.

I’m coming off the downtown 2 express – the red line – making my way to the yellow line, uptown. The yellow line has the N, Q, and R trains. I don’t know who chose those letters and why some trains are numbers. It makes it hard to remember.

There's a train at the station. I’m coming to the stairs. I see people rushing down against the current while hordes of people slowly climb up. I hope it’s not my train. I really do.

I fight my way down the stairs just as the train doors close. It’s the R. Thank God. I’m relieved. Usually what happens is – there will be an N train that just got to the platform. It lets off all these people. And now they’re climbing the stairs to make a transfer or get out of the subway. But what they don’t realize is that there’s people who still need that train. There’s people rushing, bumping into you, getting weird looks, because they’re in a hurry, and they’re trying to get down those same stairs to catch that same train those people just got off of. All they care about is themselves. They don't even bother to think about the rest of us. They really should let those people through. Or save space on one side of the stairs or the other. But they never do. Except, right now they are. For some reason. Which is just perfect because it’s not even the train I need. But usually these people, who in their minds are the most important person in the world, they don’t even think to get out of your way. That someone else is in a hurry. Even though before they got on the train, they were the ones in a hurry.

I get down the stairs and onto the platform as the R train pulls out. There’s so many people. I almost never see it this crowded. That’s rush hour for you. So there’s 3 kinds of people on this platform. Most of them move slowly, trying to get away. Then some of them just stand in place looking at their phones. And then there’s two lines of people moving against the rest. I’m in one of those lines and my line happens to be right on the edge of the platform, past the yellow safety lines which I'm not supposed to walk past unless I'm getting onto a train, which I'm not at the moment.

I’m following some lady with a purple headband to the middle of the platform because that’s where I like to get on and off the train. But it’s dangerous. Because there’s so many people and they’re all the most important person in the world and they’re bumping you and playing on their phones so much that they might not see you and maybe you could fall onto the track. Because when you’re inside the yellow safety line you’re really close to the edge and have to be really careful not to fall. Because if that happened I’m pretty sure no one would save you. Because to you, you’re the most important person, but to them you’re a nobody. To them, they’re important. And why would someone important risk their life for a nobody?

I hear the screech. I can see the N train pulling into the station even though the R train just left. Weird. Gotta be careful though. This would be the exact worst time to fall onto the tracks. There’s just so many people. No one’s paying attention.

You know what would be wonderful? If that lady with the purple headband would trip and fall right off the platform. It’s no one’s fault. Just an accident. And before she even knows what’s happening, before she actually loses contact with the platform, she stretches out her hands and grabs the person in front of her. For support. Because we all know no one’s gonna save her once she's down there. But she falls anyway. And the guy she grabs in front of her falls off balance. And before he even knows what’s going on, he grabs the old guy in front of him. And like dominos in front of me they all fall down, in a wave that ripples towards the other end of the platform, where the N train is coming from. And all of the sudden, there’s room. And I can walk. And not have to rub my jacket against the dirty garbage can or everyone else who already touched it today.

And what if all those people are laying there in a row on the tracks? Like one of those old movies where the bad guy with the mustache ties the girl down in the path of the train? But they’re not tied down. They’re just stuck down there with all the rats and the trash. And they’re all yelling for help. The most important person in the world. They want me to help them even though they would never help me. So I just go to my spot in the middle of the platform.

And then the train comes.

They all pop like balloons as their insides spray the tiles like those Rorschach spots they show me. I can never find anything in those spots. But every week Dr. Steigler makes me look at them and tell her what I see. Maybe next week I’ll tell her about the guts, the insides. But the truth is, it’s just spots.

They think there’s something wrong with me but you know what I think? Those Rorschach spots are a test for sick people. And the reason I can’t see anything in the spots is because I’m not sick. At least not in whatever way they’re looking for. But Dr. Steigler’s nice. I like visiting her. She wants me to take medicine because she says I’m depressed. I don’t see how taking pills can make you happy. But I don’t think I’m sad.

On the subway you see all types of people. Lots of them are homeless or crazy or both and I’m neither. I don’t like talking to people on the subway but sometimes they talk to you. And they always want something. Because they’re the most important person in the world. My mom always makes sure I have some money in my wallet just in case and lots of times they ask for money but I don’t give it to them. It’s supposed to be for an emergency only. And besides, I’m not supposed to talk to anyone on the train anyways unless they’re a police officer.

The N train is coming to a stop at the station. It looks crowded. I hope there’s room for me.