The morning commute provides me with my best and worst subway moments. If you do not understand the anxious rush of adrenaline that surges through my veins as I descend the escalator deep into the underbelly of the city as a voice declares, “A Manhattan-bound local train is now approaching the station,” then you haven’t really lived. Or at least, you haven’t really lived in my New York. It is at that precise moment when I forget my morals, forget the manners my southern upbringing instilled within me, forget the lady I was just moments before when I left my apartment, and turn into Crazy Commuter Woman. Rushing down the left side of the moving escalator, I curse under my breath at people standing on the right side with bags sticking out too far, the overweight fellow who is trying to hobble down the steps but doing so too slowly, the rogue idiot who did not get the memo that the left side is for MOVING. These are my enemies, and the train is Now Arriving!
It was in this state of sheer chaotic self-preservation that I found myself the other morning, trying to suppress a desire to scream at the slow moving young woman descending before me. The local train had arrived, I could see the flow of people out of its cars like the rush of water when floodgates open; all that stood between a smooth morning of making the train and an agony-filled, sweaty wait for the next one, was this lady. And she seemed not to care one bit, moseying her way down the final escalator steps, skimming against the railing that extends an extra ten feet for some inconspicuous crowd control. So I did what any not-so-new New Yorker would do—I pushed passed her. But don’t worry! I hadn’t forgotten my manners entirely! So as I turned my body sideways, sucked in my stomach and slid aggressively passed her, I screamed a jolly EXCUSE ME that I thought passed for politeness.
How wrong I was.
How naïve of me to think I could maintain a shred of humanity in the face of such urban adversity.
In the split second that this slight woman and I passed, as I began my lunge for the still-open car doors, I experienced the shot that would be heard around the world: the breeze of an arm deliberately winding up, the quick thwap of a hand whacking on the shoulder, the undeniable sound of assault.
As I slid into my seat, as the warning to Stand Clear of Closing Doors chimed, I had time to consider the cold, hard facts. That bitch HIT me!
Pulling away from the station, I knew the joke was on her.