“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:07pm
[no movement. you are maybe reading, not paying attention to what is by now a commonplace announcement that means nothing.]
“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:14pm
[no movement. you look up, notice that seven minutes have passed. mild concern furrows your brow.]
“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:20pm
[no movement. you are confused. how could a train still be crossing in front of us for 13 minutes? or have we let several cut in front of us?]
“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:28pm.
[no movement. anger is now rising very quickly.]
“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is an emergency at Roosevelt Avenue, we will be moving shortly.” [A slight stutter forward. Stop.]
“There is train traffic ahead of us, we will be moving shortly.” 6:34pm.
Clearly, all of the above announcements are blatant lies. It has now taken you 20 minutes to go from 21st Street/Court Sq to...a dark tunnel (supposedly somewhere between Court Sq and Queens Plaza).
While you are waiting, an E train slides up right next to you on the adjacent track, sitting, waiting. You are monitoring it closely. Technically, you think to yourself, the F and E trains should be on the same track. Who will go first? Will your passive-aggressive F train finally stand up for itself and stop letting those seven other trains cross in front?
Your F starts moving first. Slow, tentative steps forward, as though it doesn’t want to tempt the MTA Fates.
Now the E and F are sitting across from each other at Queens Plaza. Neither is moving. Both doors are open. Minutes pass. Passengers are growing anxious, standing about, looking across the platform suspiciously. Everyone knows: one of these trains will be local, one express--unless one will just wait behind? Is it the E or the F? The E or the F?! No announcements. From either train. The station is tense with uncertainty. 6:58pm.
A woman suddenly darts across the platform to the E, abandoning the F. She provokes a handful of followers, somehow. As though she is the defining, completely irrational signal of which train will leave first.
Somehow she is right. The E train doors close. Train departs.
Now (NOW!?) the conductor decides is the right time to tell you that the F train you are on--the only one remaining in the station, by the way--will be running local from Queens Plaza to Roosevelt Avenue. HaHA! Good one, fuckers. GOOD ONE. The timing is SPECTACULAR--a feat of enormous ingenuity and precision. This is no slip-up. It is the perfect execution of a predetermined intention.*
Your train doors eventually close, and the train begins to move. You are now glaring angrily into the windows of the E train that is, for now, running alongside your F local. Then the E dips underground deeper to where the express track lies and you, on your ill-fated F, slow down, pulling into Thirty-Fucking-Sixth Street. Banality of Banalities. A stop you have never seen anyone enter or exit from.
Somehow, there must be train traffic ahead of you still, because the train is meandering through the tunnels, like a small child picking dandelions. This train ride is actually a scenic field trip you signed up for, don’t you remember? There’s that track rabbit--oh look! Another incoherent scrawl of spray paint right next to that pile of human shit/piss stain! Take your time, enjoy the views.
You mentally (or maybe even literally) smack yourself for thinking you could give yourself enough time. Time? What is that, even? A human concept. MTA is run by pirate robots. They have no concept of time--life is an infinite continuum of shit they’re delivering right into your lap. Enjoy! Enjoy this delay between every single station, this late arrival to work for the fifth time this week, which will cause you to lose your job; enjoy this fare hike/service cut; enjoy this SAME MUTTERING/MOANING/ROBOT STATIC OVER LOUDSPEAKERS despite fancy new trains with digitized subway info.
An hour and 15 minutes to get from Greenpoint, Brooklyn (literally a 10 minute walk to LIC, Queens) to Forest Hills. You could have roller-bladed your way faster--and safer, probably--on the BQE.
Old men are by now grumbling to themselves, women have terrified looks on their faces. Others have given up hope--or achieved Zen-like calm--by simply falling asleep or gazing out glossily: zombies. You think to yourself: The MTA is training us to be zombies...has this been their plan all along? To better control and subdue us? Shove our expectations of public transportation so far down and up our asses that we could shit for days and still never complain about poor service and ridiculous fares?
Somehow, your snail’s pace has been too much. F train is apparently creeping up on those trains ahead. Gotta wait for that “train traffic**” to pass, one more time.
Your train of thought grows more coherent: How can it be that they are reducing service--i.e. cutting the number of trains on the tracks--and yet trains are running...slower? Shouldn’t this lesser amount of trains equal less train traffic? And therefore, if nothing else, faster trains between the stations? Minimal delays?
Oh, right. MTA is run by evil robot pirates. Nothing makes sense here except the absolute loss of any dignity you had as a human being. Who are you, asshole, to have a place to go? A destination? In a timely manner, no less? What do you think this is? Crazy son of a bitch.
The question now becomes: once you arrive at Roosevelt, do you transfer? Will there be a train to transfer to? No. Probably not... Should you wait for one? You sigh. Always a gamble. And the dice is always weighted against you. But you grow indignant: Must we resign ourselves to this fate? Is there nothing to be done? Has the MTA so successfully wrested control of the public trans--
Hoho! Look at this! Another F train, chugging along beside you! You examine the passengers on board: They don’t look too trampled upon. You decide to transfer at the next stop.
At Roosevelt Avenue, it’s the same E that you’d been playing tag with earlier, not the F you spotted. Strange. That E was supposed to have been way ahead of the F, seeing as it was the express that left first. Oh well. You get on it. Your doors close first. And you are...sitting in the station. And then just as the panic begins to manifest, you're off.
You begin to feel mildly faint. You realize you have hunger pangs. Oh, that’s right. You left early so you could have time to grab some dinner before you taught class for an hour and a half.
Mistake #1: Relying on MTA to not rob you of dinner and general clear-headed/pain-free consciousness.
Pounding headache ensues. You look around. No seats.
Just a few minutes is all it should take, you tell yourself. You’re on the express, after all. Shit. You’re going to be late for class. 7:14pm.
Motherfucker. MOTHERFUCKER. A renewed sense of violation angers you and gives you the remaining strength necessary to survive the train ride and your class (should you ever even arrive there) on just the one cookie you ate several hours prior.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us. Please be patient.” 7:18pm. The train is not moving.
There are actually kinkajous at the signal control panels.
*..to fuck your commute up beyond recognition
**train traffic=train operator (aka robot) watching robot porn (aka iPad tutorials)