The Commute (Part 3)

I use my hand to push the metal bar of the turnstile as I walk through. I wonder how many people have touched this same bar today, yesterday, and years before me. I wonder how many people will touch it years after me. I wonder how many people picked their noses, scratched their asses or fingered their ear wax before touching this same exact bar. I repulse myself with the thought of how dirty the bar must be. Next time I’ll just push it with my leg. I try not to swallow in an effort to hold back my vomit. Dateline should do a special on this. I saw the expose’ they did with public telephones. They found fecal matter on random phones in New York City. Fecal matter, shit. They found shit on the fucking phones. What the hell are New Yorkers doing- talking out of their asses? Ha. That’s not half bad, pretty funny! That’s the reason I hold the phone far from my face. Sure it’s hard to hear, but I make sacrifices. Maybe Dateline already had a special on the bacteria that lies on MTA turnstiles. I’ll Google it when I get home. I make a mental note to shake Manager Matt’s hand but not to touch my face until I get the chance to wash my hands.

I take the stairs two at a time and reach the train doors just as they’re closing. I stick my hand through to stop them from closing. Luckily, the train operator sees me and opens the doors for me to step through.

I used to think the doors were motion-operated, but they’re not. The doors are operator-controlled. I once saw a woman stick a baby carriage with a baby in it in the door of the train. The doors closed and the carriage became wedged in. The doors, despite the woman’s screams, the baby’s cries and my laughter, did not open. She was forced to yank the kid and carriage from between the door and wait for the next train. All the while, a voice over the loudspeaker robotically repeated, “Please release the train door.” Fucked-up, right? Funny-yes, but fucked-up too.

Since I wasn’t standing at my usual spot on the platform I am unable to sit on the first seat to my right, where I usually sit. Instead, I am forced to find a seat while the train is moving, which I hate to do. You can never plant your ass in the right spot when the train is in motion. You always end up halfway on top of a person when choosing a seat this way. There are a few seats available as it is only the second stop. I find a spot between two women. Now, unlike others who would choose this seat based solely on its proximity to women, I, on the other hand, choose it because it is closest to my usual exit door, which shaves precious seconds off my travel time.

The woman to my right is a blond, but obviously not a natural one. Her roots are showing in her sideburns, which are unusually bushy. The sweat-beads building up under this woman’s second chin gently slide down her three chin hairs. She wears a white-collar shirt and khaki-colored slacks- probably heading off to work as well. Her foot fat is pushing over the top of her heels, like a muffin bursting out of its pan, and there is a run in the slimming stockings she wears to hide her two spare tires. She smells faintly of perfume that alone would smell good if it wasn’t mixed with the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee she holds in her hand.

The woman on my left is quite the opposite from Large Marge. She has dark brown hair and eyebrows trimmed into high arches. The New York Times is neatly folded in her lap so the masthead shows. She stares straight ahead. Why isn’t she reading it? Maybe I should ask her if I could read it. I mean, she’s obviously not using it. Her hands are folded across her chest and she blinks once every three seconds, like clockwork. Maybe it’s an image thing- looking smart holding The New York Times. You’d be smarter if you actually read it, I try to express in my glare.

As she feels me looking, she brings her arms closer to her chest. She probably thinks I am going to hit on her but that’s the last thing I would do, especially here, on the subway. To hit on a woman on the subway seems so slimy, so stalker-like. I’m slimy, yes, but no stalker. I mean, to where can these women escape? It’s illegal now to walk through train cars and if they wanted to change cars, they would have to exit the train but then they run the risk of being shut out altogether. They would have to give up their seat on a crowded train if they wanted to move further down the car and would then have to stand for the duration of their trip. No. Hitting on women who have no possibility of escape is just wrong. Plus, everyone would hear if I got rejected.

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