Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Please stand clear of the closing doors

Here’s another thing dear to my heart: the morning commute. Oh, you’ve got to love stumbling to the train station, past the mysterious “NORA” graffiti that appeared on the outer wall one day (no relation—I think), and onto the freezing/boiling/rainy/grimy subway platform to wait for that elusive clanking creature. When it arrives, it’s usually crammed with all sorts of people: loud groups of students, couples huddled together, hipsters reading Ye Newe Fashionable Novelle, old ladies with large pocketbooks taking up several seats. Once, a baby on my train woke up around DeKalb Avenue and started SCREAMING. Dude, I wanted to tell him, I understand. If I woke up on the Q train, I’d be screaming too.

However, right around there, amidst the deafening shrieks, my luck starts to change. If you ever find yourself on a Manhattan-bound Q train, about fifteen seconds after you round out of DeKalb, make sure you’re looking out the window. You’ll get a perfect view of this crazy art, installed in the ’80s and restored earlier this year. It feels like I’m in on some sort of secret as I watch the busy commuters around me not see it at all. Occasionally someone one will notice all of a sudden and it’s great to see their faces. And occasionally someone will notice because I’ve made them—those who know me can attest that I’m a big fan. Let’s take the Q back into the city! I will tell hapless guests. There’s a surprise! For some reason the word “surprise” can conjure up terror, confusion, and/or nervous giggling in my visitors—am I really that evil, guys?—but most everyone is happy to see it.

The Masstransiscope vies with the next portion of the journey for the Best Scenery Award. Because soon after the rocketship fades from view, the train’s out on the Manhattan Bridge tracks and you’re faced with skyline. No matter what else is going on, I always look out one of the windows for the duration of the crossing. I have a hard time picking which one, though—Navy Yard smokestacks, traces of midtown, that beautiful sweep of water cresting up against the park? Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, helipad?—the jury’s still out. We glide into Chinatown, rumble past clothes on lines and the buildings of downtown, and I can almost-not-quite see my office building. Though I used to have a much simpler commute, I can’t conjure up any nostalgia for the vast ratty dim tunnels of the 4/5.


  1. Am struck by sudden desperate desire to join you on your commute. Can offer a spot on my commute in return. The rack-bare back of my rickety road bike, perhaps, or a pair of over-sized roller blades to trundle alongside. Nothing quite so panoramic, but plenty of gentle inclines and quiet back streets conducive to day-dreaming about New York cityscapes.

  2. romantic commute lady doesn't realize that the manhattan bridge izza hoax

    aint no bridge!