I love the subway. I love not having to think about driving or parking. I love being given a structured opportunity to catch up on podcasts and books and video games. I love the cast of
My morning commute starts at the last stop on the N/W line, living near the last stop is a mixed blessing – on the one hand there is usually a train sitting in the station with ample seating available but you pay for this luxury on the way home when the train often sits on the tracks between Astoria Blvd and Ditmars Blvd for 5-10mins while waiting for a free spot to open up at the end of the line.
This morning I was cursed with bad subway luck. Regardless of what you non-New Yorkers have heard the worst case scenario subway situation doesn’t involve robbery, murder or being accosted by some teenager selling candy for his “basketball fieldtrip.” No, despite the prevalence of mysterious dripping liquids, rats, and bottles full of urine the worst thing that can happen to you in the subway station is watching the back of your train pull out of the station just as you set your feet on the platform. I’m so focused on trying to avoid this dire situation that I often find myself walking to the subway thinking “what if the train is there now? Or now? OR NOW? – Must walk faster.” Obviously this is ridiculous – the lack of any set train schedule means that the odds of a train arriving NOW or 5mins from now are essentially equal, which means that half of the time my speed walking results in spending more time chilling at the subway station. This morning was one of the times when speed did not work in my favor -- instead of settling into my seat to start another morning of sucking at crosswords on my DS (Another D-? F-you New York Times.) I was forced to stand around in the cold staring longingly at the butt of the leaving N train.
When the next train arrived I was able to snag a seat on the bench next to a guy in a bright orange camo hunting cap and a very chic hipster girl in a pumpkin colored coat and green boots both of which I coveted. There are two kinds of seat on NYC subway trains, benches and buckets. The buckets are highly superior because they hold your ass in place; when on a bench seat you’re constantly slip sliding into your co-riders. I didn’t feel too bad about getting close to Miss Pumpkin (maybe some of her style would rub off on me…) but the unplanned cuddling with the urban hunter was less pleasant.
The N line runs above ground in
At the Broadway stop a very hot boy boards the train and stands right above me (riding the subway quickly desensitizes one to the weirdness of having someone’s crotch positioned only 6 inches from your face, I am well prepared if life takes a turn for the worst and I have to make a go of it on the streets…). He has on some fancy jeans which I guarantee coast more than $200, this along with the eyes he’s making at his a less cute but equally well dressed male travel companion lead me to believe that he would not be interested in checking out my rack (pity, it looked nice today and all he’d have to do is glance downward). When I glance downward I notice that hot guy is wearing old school 70s style hiking boots (brown suede, red laces, forced onto my feet by my hippy parents for at least 10 years of my childhood, apparently known as “wafflestompers”) and now I have to wonder if someone is actively trying to make these into a trend – are ugly hiking boots the next trucker hats?
By the time we reach
Subway routes are very Manhattan centric which means that to get from Astoria to Dumbo I have to enter the island on the N train and traverse the tunnels beneath Herald Square in order to make my transfer to the Brooklyn bound F train. As you can see on the above map (made by my friend Giselle who is AWESOME), this switch is a less than direct route inside of a larger less than direct route. Traversing the
I really hate switching trains and will often walk long distances pre-subway ride in an effort to avoid it (god bless hopstop and it’s “More street walking fewer transfers” setting). Sadly there is no way to avoid my daily transfers to and from work and so I have done the next best thing – memorized the optimal route from train 1 to train 2. This requires one to be on the exact right subway car on train 1 so that the doors open next to the stairs that lead up to the shortest possible path to the down stairway that will drop me off next to the car that will deliver me as close as possible to the door leading out of the subway station at my final destination. I am ridiculously proud of how much this system increases my subway transfer efficiency.
My subway enemies are the V, Q and R trains which run on the same tracks as the F and N lines and often trick me into thinking my train is coming when in fact one of these loser lines that won’t take me to work or home is showing up. Luckily this morning I made a smooth transition from N to F without any intervening V trains. I catch the F train towards
The F train rockets me through lower