Posted September 6, 2007
Recently the New York Times revealed a secret about the NYC Mayor’s oft-touted subway commute: our City’s top elected leader is chauffeured to his preferred station in a caravan of Chevy Suburbans.
Then does Mayor Mike know this rap? The platform starts to fill; anxious commuters lean over the tracks and peer into the tunnel. The suits check their watches and sigh; the gum chewers pop their bubbles harder. At some point – and this is when it gets scary – people line up for the pay phone. (I for one would like to see our Mayor press an oily public telephone receiver against his ear.)
Maybe it’s just the recent rain storms, but this seems to be happening more lately. Recently, on the downtown A train platform on 181st Street, one of the more interesting NYC transportation phenomena occurred – the unexplained skip stop.
By this time, the bodies were packed 3 deep by the edge of the platform. Clusters had formed at the strategic points where the car doors open. It was rush hour, and the air hummed with anxiety. If there was a pay phone at this station, there would’ve been a line.
But then there was a rumble and a flicker of light. The sighs stopped. Actually, breathing stopped. People clutched their bags and yanked at their shirts. Toes inched closer to the edge of the platform. But it was not to be – like the fool who rejoices in a lottery ticket without confirming the numbers, we had acted too soon. The train raced past. A young white man realized in time to flip off the train operator. He held that finger as close to the operator’s window as he could without getting his fist knocked off.
The fury in this commuter’s face was scary – was he the sort who prompted the ad campaign politely reminding us riders not to assault MTA employees? And then I wondered, what does Mayor Mike do? Does he too mouth expletives at MTA staff? Hold his phone aloft and jab frantically at the buttons in an attempt to provoke service?
As for me, I have two tricks: one is that I tell myself that the mysterious skip-stops are job actions and commuters must take a day off in solidarity. Second, I imagine Mayor Mike above ground, stuck in a 6 mile bumper-to-bumper on the FDR.