Usually when I sense something bad is about to happen it doesn’t. Yesterday, I left the house and immediately sensed that the things taking place around me were off (or on, depending on how you look at it). There had been a car wreck. It took place not minutes before I left the apartment. I saw it from the corner. A car had been nearly cut in half from its grill to the middle of the car. It’s almost as if driver had literally tried to separate themselves from their passenger.
And the thought crossed my mind that I should have stayed home.
Two blocks passed and I discovered a white, unmarked van. Cops had pulled it over to the side of the road. They were talking to its driver. Another stood behind the vehicle waiting to inspect the inside. Had it not been for some weird feeling, I wouldn’t have thought much of it. This happens often as we live right near the BQE.
I wasn’t even out of Brooklyn yet.
Then there were the trains. The 4/5/6 was barely running past 14 street because a “customer needed medical attention.” Usually, that means one of two things: someone does actually need medical attention (I once watch a woman suffer a massive heart attack on the N/R line), or, (and unfortunately, this seems to be the more popular translation) someone jumped or they were pushed. Granted, “Medical attention” also includes incidents where a saw-wielding man cuts into a postal worker but I’m happy to say that those incidents are rare. Yesterday’s 4/5/6 incident turned out to be a suicide.
Yesterday, something was astir, that’s for sure. When I finally got to work, I noticed a massive flow of emergency vehicles zooming up Madison Avenue. Later, I found out that a suicidal doctor going through a horrible divorce blew up his Upper East Side mansion
I chose to stay put yesterday. I did not hit the gym. (I needed a rest anyway.) I did not go out for lunch. The only thing I took care of yesterday was getting another SIM card from the T-Mobil store across the street from where I work. Nothing took place in that short amount of time.
When I left the office, I took the 4/5/6 back down to Union Square. The L Train was entering the station the moment I hit the platform. This would be a quick commute. We went to Third Avenue and then First Avenue and then, like every other day, we headed below the river toward Brooklyn. Right as we were below the river, I heard a loud sound. It sounded as though someone had put a candle out with damp fingertips. The sound was the moment the flame ceased to exist. It sounded like that only much, much louder. And then, just like that, they conductor slammed on the breaks. No announcement was made. We just sat there, motionless. I muttered the words “Oh shit.” A smell began to waft into the car. It smelled like smoke.
“Do you smell something?” I had asked her?
“Yes.” She replied.
On September 6, 2001, I was on the L Train when a similar situation took place. That time, we were forced to evacuate the train. We were stuck between Third and First Avenue at the time so the evacuation included walking up through the train and then onto the track. No one ever told me what happened. The front of the car had been torn apart; the seats had been lifted up the doors had been pried open. Later, someone would say that someone had jumped but I know that wasn’t the case. But I would forget about September 6 five days later. And I wouldn’t think about that day again until nearly a month later when I went through a phase of welcoming conspiracies.
It seems like the days where nothing feels off that something actually takes place. At least in terms of my life. There have been times I have retrospectively said, “Oh, I had a feeling something bad was going to happen.” But I can’t say I actually meant it. It’s easy to say things retrospectively. The day that Katrina died, I didn’t sense anything out of the ordinary even after Soung told me she hadn’t returned her calls. The day the WTC came down it was beautiful day, unseasonably warm and clear, and even after I saw the first plane hit I didn’t think much of it other than “HUGE pilot error”. I didn’t sense the day that my friend would total my beloved car. I didn’t sense that I’d be sued because of it. I didn’t sense the day I would discover a lump. I just don’t sense the really bad days.
Come to think of it, I don’t sense the good days either.
But just like with any day where everything feels off, nothing actually took place yesterday that directly affected me. The train sputtered back to life and nothing was said of the sound, the smoke, or the sudden stop.
“See?” She had said to me. “Everything’s going to be just fine.”
And I chose to agree with her.