Sunday, July 02, 2006

Midday Subway People

On Friday morning, I woke up with a migrane and called out of work. By late morning, with the help of some medicine, I decided I could pull it together to go into the office and get some work done (I was wrong, I felt like shit all day). So around noon time I got on the subway into Midtown.

I ride the subway during the work week almost exclusively during rush hour (which lasts for hours in New York). I imagined that the mid-day commute would be totally anders als my regular hobbling, soul-crushing subway time. Would there be personal valet service? Are the daytime trains pulled by unicorns? Last week I had a doctor's appointment during the work day and I took the bus to the Upper East Side. Do you know who rides the city busses during office hours? Nearly entirely old people, with some young mothers/nannies thrown in for good measure. I wondered, what kind of people ride the Manhattan bound subway at 12:00pm on a Friday?

I got on the train and sat down next to two young, urban lesbian/questioning black women. One of the girls was all kissing on the other. "Don't," said the recipient of these kisses.

"What?" said her girlfriend. "We are."

The black lesbians got off the train at Atlantic Avenue. At DeKalb Avenue two slightly older white, liberal, well-educated lesbians (the garden variety I am most familiar with) got on the train and sat in the exact seats next to me. Their conversation was totally boring; they were trying to decide whether to do their errands together, or do them seperately and then meet-up. Somehow, they managed to work in some criticim of the Federal Government into this conversation. I contemplated asking them if they were Smith graduates, but I think I already knew the answer. At least now I could answer the question who rides off peak subway trains? Lesbians do, that's who.

To my right sat a guy who looked exactly like Josh, except maybe 15 years older. He was with his wife and two children, a girl and a boy. The kids were eating sandwhiches. I mean, although I've never actually met Josh, I've seen enough photos of him on his fancy Internet weblog to say that the guy on the train looked exactly like future Josh. I was glad to see that Future Josh had done so well for himself. Then I thought, maybe that's who rides the subway, our future selves. While we're in our offices doing our 9-to-five (i.e. 8-to-7) maybe our future selves ride the underground rails. Maybe they're trying to bring us messages from the future, but they can't figure out the goddamn MTA Service Announcements and so they are unable to make contact with us as we toil above. Future Josh's family did look confused- they even broght out a subway map. I contemplated intervening, but I feared some kind of wacky Back to the Future consequences.

To my right sat a local Orthodox Jewish man talking to some Israeli soldiers visiting New York City on leave. I know they were Israeli soldiers because when they got off the train at Canal Street, the Orthodox Jew announced to the business man sitting across from him, "Isreali soldiers!" I assumed the business man would not give a shit, but soon the two men were having a conversation about the current state of Gaza and the businessman seemed interested in what the Orthodox guy had to say. They exited the train at Union Square. "Shabat Shalom," said the businessman in passing. "Shabat Shalom" said the Orthodox stranger. I turned to see if the businessman was wearing a yarmulke but he was not.

On the uptown 6 train, three sun-burnt middle-aged women (one of whom was either a dyke or European leading credence to my earlier hypothesis) got on the train with about ten tweenage girls. 'Dance troup?' I wondered, but no, that wasn't it. Then I though, 'Girl Scouts? Do we have Girl Scouts here? Is anyone still a Girl Scout?'. A few stops later the girls had shuffled around and I could see that one of them was wearing a GS backpack and one wore a GS sweatshirt tied around her waist. I tried to imagine what it would be like to take a trip with my Girl Scout troop to New York City. In eight years in the Girl Scouts, the most exciting place we ever went was ... nowhere. We never went any place I would actually call "exciting." Sure, there was the anual sleep over at the Boston Museum of Science for a few years but mostly we took trips to old folks' homes and water treatment plants. But Girl Scouts were tougher back in the 80s. ADHD had not yet been invented. We did things like weave newspaper sit-upons not because it was fun, but because that's what Girl Scouts did.


Beta said...

Sit-upons! the Boston Museum of Science! Both exciting. Does Camp Hoffman mean anything to you?

Cupcake said...

Of course I loved Camp Hoffman, althoug I'm not sure "exciting" is the right word for it. "Musty" maybe. I always prefered making God's Eyes to Sit-Upons, possibly foretelling of my love for yarn crafts. Say, what was the name of the day camp in town? Camp Nikita? Camp Nolita? Gar, memory fails...

Joshua said...

Future me? Really? Wow. I hope my wife was hot.

According to Toby and Will, this is what I will look like:
I'm the Rogue Brown Ale guy.

complekated said...

Camp Nakewa (sp?). Ah, yes. Camp Hoffman was the only place I ever got into a fistfight with someone. Yes, another 8-year-old girl. My camp name was "Robin". Thought I was very clever for skirting the system and coming up with a "nature" name that was actually used in the real world. Love the GS.

Joshua said...

Also, the Jewdar was strong in that one. Man am I bored today.