Tag Archives: trains

I met my guardian angel while waiting for the subway

I was running late for work the other day, so late that I must have forgotten to check my pockets as I flew out the door, I didn’t have my MetroCard, it’s usually in my left back pocket, not in my wallet, easy access, you need the easiest access for a MetroCard. It’s like, any sort of moisture on your hands, whatever the plastic material that the card is made out of, it becomes impossible to get a grip on if it’s stuck in a wallet, you’ll be standing there at the turnstile, why isn’t this thing coming out, it’s barely raining, or I’m barely sweating at all, and people behind you are like, “Come on buddy, let’s move it pal, I don’t have all day here man, let’s go …” and you want to be like, “Shut up! All right! Just shut up!” but the best you can muster is a feeble, “I’m sorry, it’s just that, I can’t, my grip, it’s right here, I … it’s … I’m,” and they’re like, “Hurry! Up! Move!” and then the MTA employee gets on the mic behind the box, you think she might defuse the situation, but she’s not on your side, “Sir! Please step aside and let the people through!” and it’s only been what, ten, fifteen seconds so far, you’re not allowed ten or fifteen seconds to try and grab the card that’s right there?


Right, so back pocket it is, which, until now was the most effective strategy, walk through, loose MetroCard in the pocket, swipe, if only that guy ahead of me would just hurry up already, what is he, a tourist, come on pal. But this time it’s my undoing, I’m going to swipe but there’s no card, there’s nothing, I look behind me, there’s a line, I start to panic, I can feel the group conscious start to come down on me, it’s going to be negative, maybe it’s going to be violent, who’s going to turn on me first.

“Hey friend,” who the hell said that? “Need a swipe?” It’s this guy next to me, I don’t know what to say, what’s his angle? What does he want? “No, it’s just that … well, I can’t seem to … I just,” and then he just swiped it. The turnstile screen said go, so I went. “Hey man, that was really … you didn’t have to, I … thanks, just … just, thanks a lot, all right?”

“Yeah, no problem.” And then I turned, I went up the stairs to wait for the train, I always walk to the end of the platform, nobody ever walks all the way down, and so even if it’s a full train, even if it’s rush hour, there’s always a little more room if you head toward the first or the last car. But I couldn’t help but thinking about that guy, was I just his good deed for the day? Does he do stuff like that pretty regularly? Man, I’ve got to buy a new MetroCard, which sucks, because I don’t want to have to get attached to a new one, I used the old one for so long that all of the lettering faded away, it was just a white card with a magnetic strip, which I thought was cool, it was like I owned it, like it was …

“Hey man, you dropped your magazine.” It was that same guy. He was holding a magazine. I instinctively reached back to touch my other back pocket, yep, it was gone, no magazine, and that’s weird too because I’m never losing things out of my back pockets, and now today, twice, first the MetroCard, now, well, maybe I lost the magazine while looking for my MetroCard, that moment of panic, I could feel everybody’s eyes on me, just waiting for me to trip up, sometimes even if you have your card, you swipe it that first time and it doesn’t read, it’s just like, “Swipe again, at this turnstile,” and so you’re stuck, come on …

“Thanks man, I owe you again,” I told him and grabbed my magazine. “Yeah, don’t mention it.” Wow, I’ve got to be more careful I guess, just a little more aware of my possessions, my sense of what’s in what pocket, right? When I got on the train there weren’t any seats, so much for my strategy, well, whatever, maybe it’s just unusually crowded today, or maybe there was a delay right before I got on, so everybody had a chance to walk to the end of the platform, but it doesn’t matter, I guess I really don’t mind standing for …

“Hey man, you want to sit down?” I couldn’t believe it, it was the same guy, what is he, my guardian angel? How did he get on the train before me? I didn’t even see any open seats, there are like twenty people standing in the car, and this guy was definitely behind me when I took the magazine out of his hands. I wanted to ask him all of this, I wanted to freak out, head to the next car and try and give this guy the slip, but the car doors closed right behind me and, yeah, I actually did want to sit down, I’d been rushing this whole morning, everything off on the wrong foot, no coffee, I was exhausted, “Yeah, man, thanks.” And he got up and I sat down and read my magazine. That was really nice, that guy, what a nice thing to do, three nice gestures in a row, this total stranger, what a guy.