In case you’re an American who doesn’t know because you’re oh…dead and buried in a hidden cave, Pope Francis is in town. Now, I like this pope, I like the things he says, I like the things he does even more, and I think he’ll make great strides worldwide with his emphasis on humanity, compassion, and service. I’m happy for those who are thrilled for the opportunity to see him and hear him speak.
But for the love of all, could you learn how to train before you walk into the subway? The stations and the train lines are all packed, overflowing with papal tourists and delays. This morning I think I saw every outer borough character I’ve ever written.
On the Shuttle:
“Mary, there’s a seat, go sit down.”
Mary clamps her lips together and shakes her head so hard her pin curls are quivering.
“You don’t like that seat? I’ll sit instead of you.”
“I don’t want any seat, Timothy, not just that seat.”
Timothy turns to the man in the seat next to him. “I only ride the train once every ten years or so, what about you?”
Man next to him lifts one side of his headphones, “Every day.”
“You must have a lot of extra time on your hands. What does it take you, hours to do your hair like that every day?”
Man touches his dreadlocks, looks across at me (guess I’ve got the stamp of a regular subway rider tattooed on my face), and laughs. “I do it while I’m on the trains.”
On the platform:
“Steven!! Get away from the edge, you’re going to fall in!”
“Oh my GAWD, is that a rat?”
“Is it always so hot in here?”
On the 2:
Group of senior women in their very best rhinestone studded Juicy Couture, talking at a young man in workout gear. “I’m tellin ya, they’ve got the best pizza on 18th Avenue, you’ve gotta go to Brooklyn.”
“Uh, ok, thanks.”
“Whaddya telling him that for, Rosemary? Don’t listen to her, honey, you’ve gotta go for the clams at Campagnoli’s.”
Pained nod from the young man.
All four lean in to him before they get off the train. “With spaghetti!”
There’re two things regular NYC subway riders get every day, and one of those is religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to be the most organized, tables set up and staffed at many stations, 3 in Grand Central, politely waiting for those who appear interested. Many different Christian denominations can be found with signs and pamphlets. Every so often, outside the stations there’ll be a group of Orthodox Jewish men, offering…baptisms? conversions? in trailers. Last week there was a group of off-key Hare Krishnas singing and soliciting donations, bright marigold robes practically glowing in the tunnels. Then of course there are those there to alert us to Armageddon.
The other thing you get in the subways daily? Music. Often great music. I’ll admit, I’m not into the guys who’ve made instruments out of saws and violin bows, but they have their followers. And it would be fine if the trumpets would hold off until, say, 10am. But yeah, music is the perk of a sizable commute on and around the trains.
I know, I know, for most visiting today it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, an honor. Couldn’t they have scheduled this for one of the two days off the public schools had this week?
Happy Friday, Fringelings.