The MTA Chronicles – S Train
If you live in New York there is a pretty good chance that the subway system will be a big part of your life. More if you live out in the boroughs. In every phase of your life you associate it with a train line much the same way you do with a daily auto route if you live out in the suburbs. This is dictated by where you live, where you work, where you go to school, etc. etc. But there is one or two that is a constant in your travel life, like it or not the 1, 2 and 3 train has been a staple in my life for the last 10 years and the S train occasionally the last 5 years. There are occasions on the subway when rider’s poker face disappear and you get to experience some pretty interesting interactions and sometimes it’s a learning experience.
*FYI: this is a blog, there are grammatical errors, and what not. Sorry, just me write unfiltered. Thanks.
The S line that goes from Times Square to Grand Central Station usually have a mix of 9 to 5-ers, out-of-towners and the commuters going to Penn Station, Port Authority or Grand Central. The train platform on the Grand Central side is like a subway commune. Every single day some musicians play at the end of the platform. I have seen every kind of musicians from a group of young bright violinists, do-wop and a rocker who for 8 long years had a anti-bush sticker that went from new to distressed. He finally broke a smile last November.
The walk from the platform to Lexington Avenue exit where I usually need to go is one huge melting pot of religion, cults and very talented musicians, drunks and dancers – the drunks not so much lately (guess the recession hits everyone). It’s like the Wild West. On the space off to the platform I have seen everything being sold but the DVD bootleg peddler is who I feel sorry the most for. If you’ve ever witnessed it you’d be really amaze at how patience the peddlers are. They use a huge king size bed sheet and lays the dvd’s out one by one and when the look out sees a cop they grab the bedsheet and wrap it up then pretends to wait for the train with some lumping clump of bedsheet. Then when the coast is clear they spread out the bedsheet and start the process of putting the dvd’s side by side, one by one. Then the lookout alerts them again, the process starts all over again. Talk about being busy at your job.
Sherri Glass, a gospel singe, if you can call her that, is usually there to sing her song in the echo-y hall. The problem with her is that she has no business singing really. A black woman in her 40′s or 50′s with coke bottle bottom glasses who could not hold a note if her life depended on it. Simon would’ve booted her out in a second. The problem with her is her material; she has no chorus, and its all verse, no bridge, no nothing, just verse. She has a pathetic small display of free religious pamphlets but it is layout in such an unfriendly way that it basically reads ‘I only do this to look legit’. I saw her at a local library once and there’s nothing stranger than seeing strange people not in their usual crazy acting spot. It jars you. But that’s another story.
During the 5 years going back and forth the S train I have seen exhibition performance political art by the Falun Gongs. Please DO NOT BOW, I do not want your newspaper. The problem I have is sometimes I just have to make eye contact, that’s just me, so inevitable they always stop by, or try.
E-meter and stress test people. For some reason they don’t make eye contact with me.
The prayer circle and the patient (or lazy) Watchtower ladies who sit in the other side of the platform and don’t bother anyone really. I consider them a non-confrontational religion. If you want it, we’re here. If not we’re not sweating it. At least that’s the attitude on the subway station.
But the other day I saw this writing on the wall.
It was interesting because I thought of Twitter immediately. Here was a scribble on the wall, someone responds to it, and then re-comments on it again. Then I started thinking about the writing on subways, bathroom walls, graffiti walls, sides of building. Everywhere. So we already had Twitter really, or the old chat rooms, forums and facebook. Just in a very random way. Perhaps people have always had this need to communicate anonymously.
I took a photo but i keep thinking about how it was written. “Your being set-up” with a follow-up “Life is a set-up…” with another follow-up “It’s all about management skills.” The first comment was made when? how long did it took for the second person to write his follow-up and did he follow the management skills comment immediately? And the context? What compel the first person to write that on the wall, did he have a bad day? But I keep thinking, that’s right, yes life is a set-up. Everything basically is a set-up. We invented all this, we set-up all this up. The money system, the government, inventions, our own problems, etc. etc. Let’s face it, modern life is an invention of humans. And really none of this is so real. Money is really ink and paper. So the last comment is right, given the first two statement is right, life is a set-up, you are being set-up, so it is all about the management skills of how you deal with this set-up, navigate through this unreal world. Wise writing on the wall, if that’s what they meant.
It could be completely read another way of course, but somehow like the Internet, you will believe what you want to believe and see what you want to see.