The 2 train ground to a slow halt just before Park Place station, its engines exhaling heavily to silence, as if exhausted. The carload of commuters, me included, instantaneously offered an impressive array of sour frowns and sighs in support of the Team Annoyance. A slight man of professorial appearance sitting next to me straightened his newspaper page angrily, seemingly trying to shake off the print from the paper. “Hate this fucking shit,” he muttered.
Minutes emerged and expired in our underground predicament, steadily corroding the thin reserves of the little good will among passengers. Internal PA system crackled into life. “Due to a medical emergency on the train ahead of us we will be delayed until further notice. Thank you for your patience.” A chorus of angry murmurs fogged up the car. Tall blonde woman across the aisle crossed her flip flopped legs in defiance at the call for patience: “Don’t fucking tell me to be patient! Stay the fuck home if you’re sick, what business do you have riding a fucking train!” “Right you are,” agreed the professor to my left, beating the crap out of Steph Curry and Lebron James sprawled across the back page.
More minutes passed, dissolving our collective anger into resignation. My podcast about the European Football Championship over, I read and re-read the same piece on what Obama’s endorsement would bring to Hillary’s campaign. Man, Trump vs Hillary. No words. I look at depressed faces of my fellow commuters, trying to figure out who would vote Trump among them. The angry blonde woman surely would, maybe the guy next to her… “Dear passengers, we apologize for the inconvenience. As the emergency services continue to deal with the medical situation on the train ahead of us, our train will enter the Park Place station so that you can disembark through the first car if you wish to do so. Once again, we apologize for the inconvenience.”
As the announcement ends, the car jerks forward. The engine rumbles to life and the train labors forward with the screeching of steel against steel drowning a steady stream of curses and protests from a column inching slowly towards the first door in the first car.
The door opens, disgorging the angry mass onto the platform. We robotically make our way forward, towards the stairs and the humdrum of the street above. Most look to the backs of those walking before them, only a few bother to crane their necks to see what is happening further ahead on the platform.
There, a crowd of medics and firemen stand limply around a stretcher with a body on it. A policemen approaches carrying a body bag. Another is trying to move the gathering crowd away from the body. My stream of commuters carries me up the stairs and I lose sight of the somber scene.
The professor climbs the last few steps ahead of me, throws the paper into a bin with disgust, oblivious to what is happening on the platform. Looks to his watch. “Now am going to be late for my fucking meeting. Thank you assholes!” I watch him walk off towards Church Street, dazed, slowly coming to my senses into a crisp, sunny, noisy New York morning, thick with traffic, concrete drills, shouts, sirens, coffee and bagels, fuhgeddaboudit. I look up and start walking towards Fulton Street.