Today I was going to go downtown to meet some friends and do a little shopping, but my plans were quite literally DERAILED.
I was sitting peacefully reading my book (Middlesex, which is excellent, review forthcoming), when the subway jolted to a stop in the tunnel. I knew this is what happened because the train was kind of lopsided on the track, and after a good 10 minutes waiting, people around started to speculate as well. The conductor came on the intercom to say, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your conductah speaking. There has been an emergency ahead of us. We will be moving shortly. Please be patient.”
“Shortly” in MTA speak means “no idea when”, so I just went back to my book. The “please be patient” lament pisses me off so bad, because WTF else am I gonna do but be patient? And if someone is going to get all impatient, WTF are they gonna do? We are stuck in a METAL ROOM UNDERGROUND for chrissake. “Please be patient” strikes me as a stupid request.
Eventually, the conductor came back on the intercom – identifying himself again as “the conductor” lest there be any confusion about who was in charge here – this time a sample of strait-up panic in his voice, “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THIS IS YOUR CONDUCTAH SPEAKING. PLEASE REMAIN CALM. THE TRAIN HAS DERAILED. PLEASE REMAIN CALM!" Mind you, everyone was perfectly calm. And being patient. But, after this went on for an hour – with him continuously checking in, identifying himself, sounding frantic and imploring us to “please remain calm” each time, it started to get a little concerning.
Anyway, this went on for a good hour, when suddenly, the same lament came over the intercom again, but this time: “A RESCUE TRAIN IS ON THE WAY!”
OMG, at this point we’re being rescued?
So the rescue train pulled up to the back of the endangered, uncalm train, and soon enough we were ushered through each car, into the rescue train, where we all found new seats and got to talking.
The girls around me – strangers to one another and to me – were sharing stories of train experiences. All of them told the lady from Miami that this has never happened to them in all their years in New York, and I was thinking, “Which MTA are you riding on the day to day?” Because in my experience this shit happens ALL THE TIME.
One of them was headed to a performance at the Joyce Theater, where she would be dancing, and she was nervous because now she would be late for her arrival at 5:30, for the show that started at 7:30. We all comforted her, letting her know she’s probably make it by 7:30, and she wouldn’t be the only one late for the 5:30 arrival time.
The conductor came through each car of the Rescue Train, and we, the rescued, listened as he told us, “WE WILL BE MOVING SHORTLY. YOU ALL DID A GREAT JOB. WE WILL GET YOU OUT OF HERE QUICKLY AND SAFELY” and some other BS.
Then we started moving, we breathed a sigh of relief, and as we got back to 5th Avenue, before the train stopped, I told the dancer that, if there were any problems with her director, she could tell him that the conductor told her she did a great job. Everyone got a kick out of that.