By Mims Cushing
New York City is my drug of choice. I was born there. It’s about as expensive to live there as to buy specific street drugs. I am addicted to roaming the streets of downtown Manhattan, Uptown Manhattan, and all around the town. One way to lessen the expense of getting around the island is to avoid taxis and use the subway.
We native New Yorkers call NYC “The City” as though there is no other city in the world. The place knocks me out. From Katz’s Deli and the fascinating Tenement Museum downtown to Yorkville’s knock-out knockwurst. The museums, the endless concerts that are offered, the Broadway plays, the Off (and Off-Off) Broadway plays, grandiose Central Park and mini vest-pocket parks. They’re all great places to watch people, but there’s no finer place to people-watch than the subway. New York City is especially sweet at Christmas time. I realize not everybody feels this way. Yeah, I get it; it’s crowded.
It used to be that you could do a lot of things on subways that are now, sadly, verboten. Signs posted in the train cars a while back, thanks to the Metropolitan Transit Authority campaign “Courtesy Counts,” are supposed to help teach city riders the etiquette of traveling underground. Here are a few of the signs:
“Do not eat.” (Heck, even the airlines, trains and buses let us bring food on board.) “No eating” caused an outrage by one passenger who felt the subway is the quintessential place to eat a meal. One rider sulked, “Eating on the subway really works well with my schedule.” Couldn’t he have settled for a nice place in Central Park?
“Do not spread your legs (men) or take up too much space.” Couldn’t they have come up with a more delicate phrase than “spread your legs?” Such a tasteless set of words. Not to put too fine a point on this, it is also called “manspreading,” which is in the Oxford English Dictionary.
One paper said, “Poles are for your safety, not your latest routine. A subway car is no place to think “SHOWTIME!” Of course at rush hour one can hardly get a Kleenex out of a pocket because of the people-crush. People getting off the subway act as though the bell has rung on Derby Day.
“Do not put on makeup.” Perhaps New York is afraid people will stick mascara in the eye of the person sitting next to them. An eyeball gets poked and the city is sued.
Having ridden the subways to work for years when I was in my 20s, it never dawned on me how hard subways must be for elderly folks. All those stairs from the street to get down to the escalators! Nowadays, I myself struggle when I ride the subway, but I still find it fascinating to see the mass of humanity struggling to get from point A to point B.
Subway riders are sometimes victims of crimes. Pocketbook stealing, wallet snatching, perhaps a stabbing or two. But the subways are not all about blood, sweat and gore. YouTube shows wonderful flash dancers and singers performing in the aisles.
I yearn for Ponte Vedra Beach after I’ve spent 10 days up there. I admit PVB has become the grounds for my happy dance, a refuge from the storm of city life. I need to have earplugs like the racehorse American Pharoah to block out the noise of mid-Manhattan and the subway.
County Commissioners, let’s celebrate that there’s no money for subways in Ponte Vedra Beach.