It's a rainy Friday evening and I have just finished my GMAT and am headed into the city to celebrate with a movie, dinner, and an outing to a wonderful piano bar called Marie's Crisis where they only play Broadway tunes, and everyone sings along. And (nearly) every man is gay. Basically, my ideal night.
So, I'm sitting there, headphones in, reading my book, minding my own business like a good New Yorker. This particular subway is the type with three seats in a row and then two seats perpendicular to them (see photo, you non New York dwellers), and I am sitting in the three seat section, closest to the two seat segment (ie., where the man's feet are). One lady is sitting on the outside of the two seater (i.e., where the man's blue folder is), and no one is on the inside of the two seater (i.e., where the man is). I think many would agree with me in saying that is the worst seat on the subway. I like to call it the crap seat. I mean, look at it, you're crowded back in this little cubby, no room for your legs, and all smooshed. This for me is not worth sitting. I would rather stand.
In any event, this girl gets on, probably mid to late twenties. She's wearing sunglasses (remember, it's 6pm and raining outside), large gold earrings, skin-tight clothing, and carrying 6 shopping bags from Furla, Coach, and Saks. I'm trying my hardest not to be judgmental, but when she's making it so easy...
Right, so, the only empty seat is this one right beside me, the crap seat. The following conversation ensues:
Girl: Will you move over?
Lady: No, I'm fine here.
Girl (all huffy and exasperated): Yea, well, why don't you just move over??
Lady (gesturing to the 4 bags on her lap): I have all this stuff, I'm not moving in there.
Girl (gesturing ever more exasperated and self-entitled to her 6 bags): Yea, well I have MORE bags.
Lady: Ok, well, then all the more reason for you not to sit here and crowd everyone.
So now the girl is real peeved. She dramatically steps over this lady, swinging her bags every which way, of course hitting me with them, given that I'M SIX INCHES AWAY FROM HER, and squeezes herself and all her bags and all her baggage (if you know what I mean) into the crap seat. We have officially entered the express train to bad news bears.
There is about a 2 minute pause where the tension is palpable. Even with my book and headphones blocking out the world, I could sink my teeth into it. Then, confusion. The lady is speaking to the girl in Spanish. I look at the lady, who doesn't look particularly Hispanic, and then look at the girl, who could be, but, I'm thinking to myself, "How does this lady just KNOW the girl speaks Spanish? Is this like "knowing" someone is Jewish? Or Mormon? Is this some scheme to win her over by approaching her in her native tongue or something? What. The. Crap." I mean, why even engage? WHY???
Lady: Something something something in Spanish
Girl (looking at the lady over the rim of her sunglasses): Yeah, except I don't SPEAK ESPANOL.
Lady (clearly derailed from her local train to fixing the situation): Oh. Well, what I was saying is that you could put on of your bags over by the window and then we would both have more room, and this girl (pointing to me) would also have more room, and we would all be better off.
Ed Note: Again, WHY reason with the unreasonable??
Girl: I'm JUST fine here.
Lady: Why do you have to be so mean, you're making everyone unhappy.
Girl: Well I'M happy, I don't know what YOUR problem is.
Lady: When I was your age, I wouldn't have treated adults as you are.
Ed Note: Oh great, now we're bringing out the age card. Lady, seriously, I want to be rooting for you, but you're just making it too easy for this beeyotch.
Girl: Oh waah waah waah, I'm so sad for you.
Lady: You shouldn't have even sat down here.
Girl: Yea, well 10 years ago you would have been SHOT for not giving a seat to someone like me.
Ed Note: Ok, we just went to a whole new level of absurdity. I wish I could inconspicuously take my iPod out of my coat pocket (the one under all the girl's bags) and turn down the volume so I can catch each and every word of this. But if I did, I would probably laugh. Because this is absurd.
Lady: *sigh of disgust*
At this point we reach another stop and the woman who is the in the crap seat across the "aisle" from us gets out. Enter into our story the man who is sitting on the corresponding seat as the lady, just across the aisle. Who, being 3 feet away from the lady and girl can also hear everything. Oh right, EVERYONE can, because people don't talk on the subway, so these ladies are the main attraction.
Man: Excuse me, ma'am, if you'd like, I can slide over and you can sit over here.
Lady (rudely): No thank you.
Girl: *snort of disgust*
Ed Note: WHY DIDN'T SHE JUST TAKE IT?? IS THE POINT REALLY WORTH DRIVING HOME FURTHER??
Man: Alright, well you're welcome to sit here, it might make everyone happier... you know it's Friday, it's the weekend, no need to be upset.
Girl: Yeah, why don't you just move over there?
Lady (to man): I don't need to move over there, this girl is the rude one, and she shouldn't have sat here in the first place.
Girl: *rolls eyes*
Man: Well, I know, but really, it's the weekend , it's Friday(he kept on the weekend thing), everyone's going home, why not have more room?
Lady: No, I'm fine.
Man: Alright, I was just trying to help.
Lady (real huffy now): Well, I didn't ASK for your help.
Girl: You are so f*cking ridiculous, you know that?
At this point we get to another stop, and the man gets up to leave, with a "Have a nice weekend" as he departs. Now there are TWO empty seats across the aisle from the lady. The girl looks over and points at them, insisting that the lady go over there. But a father and son sit down. The girl says some exasperated version of "Why didn't you just move over there?" and with that, the lady full-on body-checks the girl into the subway window/wall. At this, I almost pee my pants trying not to laugh. Up until this moment, even with the lady being mean to the man, I was giving the lady the benefit of the doubt and cursing my generation for being so dang self-entitled. But with the body checkage, my allegiance flew out the window. The girl at this point has her moment of shocked silence.
And then we all sit. Silently. I exchange a knowing glance with my neighbor in the middle seat beside me.
You see, the funny thing about the subway is that you literally are shoulder to shoulder with people who in any other situation you would never consider touching. I mean, I don't sit that close to my best friends on most occasions, yet every day I literally am touching complete strangers, reading their books and newspapers and To Do lists out of the corner of my eye, and being one with their personhood. It's bizarre, but it's like all social rules about personal space disappear in the confines of that subway car. Except in situations like this.
The next stop is mine, so I wrap up my iPod, fold down the corner of the page in my book, and get up to leave. It takes every ounce of my being to not make a snide comment as I leave like "Hey, my seat's free now, you can put your feet up so you're more comfortable, princess" or something equally obnoxious. But I manage to refrain, and simply depart and walk through the rainy streets to Union Square to meet with my wonderful friends and share my story of my special subway ride. Just another day in the life.