Yesterday, aboard the L train heading towards Union Square a fight broke out between two hipsters. This was something different. Normally, people may seem agitated and shuffle their feet, maybe they’ll poke the person with an elbow or a knee. Rarely are words exchanged. Just nasty looks and a whole lot of passive-aggressive fueled huffing and puffing.
As I was standing on the platform waiting for the L at Graham avenue a young girl walked up and stood DIRECTLY in front of me. There wasn’t too much room to stand in front of me without falling into the dumpster juice below, but she managed to swing it.There aren’t many things that annoy me more than cutting me off if I have been waiting for whatever means of public transport long before you sauntered in. I was infuriated. But I embraced it and let it go. Instead of confronting her or pushing her into the path of the oncoming subway, I decided to silently judge her.
HipstHer was wearing a shiny blue shirt that was tied up in the front. She wore those long dangly earrings, some glittery facial makeup and two non-matching pink barrettes which screamed for help against her jet black hair. For a skirt, she wore a torn white thing, Flashdance style, and for shoes, a pair of cowboy boots. One might say I had a lot to work with.
I just stared at the back of her bobbing head. Her iPod was just loud of enough for a normal person to hear. But considering my deafness and all, to my dismay, I was unable to hear what she was listening to. But I’m going to guess it was Guns and Roses or Chicago.
Once the train arrived and we got on board, we both found positions wherever we could find empty bars to hold onto. The L train is ALWAYS pickle packed with people. There isn’t a day that goes by where one isn’t irked by their commute on the L train. But it’s best to let it go. Otherwise, you’re in a for a world of endless frustration. She stood in the center, near the middle bar. I leaned against the door that separates the trains. (You’re not supposed to do that. But I do. You’re also not supposed to jump in line. But people do. I have submitted a proposal to my editor about a book I’m writing called “Public Transportation: Practicing Proper Etiquette On Board, or Simply Striving To Not Be a Douchebag.” Though, the word Douchebag might have to change.)
We rode like this for two stops. Then, at Bedford Avenue, another pack of humans got on. (Sometimes it amazes me that folks won’t wait for the next train. There really WILL be one behind that one. I promise.) They had a harder time trying to find safe places to stand. Usually the taller people push their hands up onto the ceiling, dangling there like human stalactites, they sway like massive green sea plants that way with every new wave. The shorter people hope for the best. That’s all they can do. But to be honest, it’s usually so crowded one can’t move or fall anyway. The rest of the crowd will hold them up. (For those of you who live in the burbs, our packed subway is your traffic jam. It’s that frustrating and that uncomfortable.)
He got on at Bedford with a friend. Had the scene taken place at a bar, HipstHer and HipstHim may have had a chance at a night of drunk sex. But we were subway dwellers and, for most, banging the person next to you is not the first thing on your mind. (Though, I have heard about sickos who like to rub up against girls while commuting on a busy train. For them, I sort of wish guns were legal. And I hate guns. But for a minute sometimes, I might like to shoot them.)
HipstHer didn’t like that HipstHim was crowding her space. So she began to shove him with her elbow over again. How do I know this? Because eventually words were spoken and the two had it out, right there on the busy subway.
“The fucking train is packed. Where do you want me to GO?! WHERE?!!”
“I can’t fucking move. Look at this place. LOOK AT IT!! IT’S PACKED! You shut up.”
“Don’t tell me to shut up!”
“Stop slipping me your elbow. You’re acting like a moron.”
This went on for the duration of the flight. A flight we were all on together leading us to places none of us really wanted to go. In the heat, beneath our stinky city, I found myself surrounded by people who, if the stale subway air blew just right, gave off the faint odor of sour morning breath coupled with the stronger smell of Crest, Aim or Aquafresh. They barked and barked like fat seals in hipster clothing and came to no real conclusion. Meanwhile, the rest of us turned up our music or buried our faces deeper and deeper into our newspapers and NYT best sellers. It was going to be yet another glorious day.