Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Subway and the Odyssey

I've seen a lot of crazy things in my life, but nothing could have prepared me for the insane adventure I had last Saturday, as I braved the New York subway system. I must say, I am no Homer. My adventures won’t be nearly as poetic as the Iliad and the Odyssey, but I assure you the events you are about to read are 100 percent factual. This is my story:

That day, I was on my way out to Brooklyn for an audition, so I made sure to allow plenty of time so I wouldn't be late. Future employers don't tend to look too kindly for people that run on their own schedules. So around 2 PM, I gathered my belongings, and set off on my journey.

The PATH ride into the city was relatively uneventful. Its 13 minutes to 33rd street where I would brave the masses of tourists and people who live for Macys 30% off sales in order to get to Penn Station about two blocks away. That much I knew, as I had done it a thousand times before. But I soon discovered that getting to the other borough would prove a little more difficult.

After “Terry Tate office-linebackering” my way through the bustling mess that is Penn, I found the “2” train, that would supposedly take me into the heart of Brooklyn. Only problem was the “2” wasn't running on this track today. Instead, I had to cross the platform and wait for the train on the other side. A small monkey wrench, but it seemed simple enough.

25 minutes later, and still no train, no heat, and no cell service. The last of those conditions proved devastatingly painful as I was waiting for score updates on the FSU-Duke basketball game and neither text nor ESPN mobile worked in these dungeons. Three trains came and went, and still no “2.” I had reached the point of impatience where I was prepared to get on whatever train came next and take my chances, when lo and behold, along comes the “2.” And my journey continued.

Apparently half of the greater part of Manhattan had been waiting for this train, because the minute the doors open, they flooded in like college kids at an open seating sports event. It was a downright free-for-all, a stampede of epic proportions, into the mass of cattle already aboard the train. There we stood and sat, scrunched into the tiny cars, each hoping the person next to us had at least had the courtesy to shower and brush their teeth. Otherwise, this was going to be one LONG train ride. The crowds finally began to dissipate as we neared the last of the Manhattan stops. At least now I would have a place to rest my arse. You try standing in a pair of 4 inch stiletto boots for thirty minutes straight. Brutal.

It seemed like forever before we emerged at the first Brooklyn stop. The seediness in the train had gone from like a 3 to a 9 almost instantaneously. Where the hell was this train taking me?? Bored out of my mind, and still with no cell service, I began to engage in the only other sport I may be good at besides bowling and air hockey… people watching. There was the single dad with the two little girls, who took great pleasure in torturing one another and destroying their brand new pairs of tights while their pop wasn’t looking. There was the group of gangbangers that walked from car to car like they were straight out of “Adventures in Babysitting.” Then, there was… a Carebear. Not the children’s stuffed animal variety, but a human size theme park rental Carebear. The bear sat on the opposite side of the train, with his legs crossed for most of the ride, and even pulled out his blackberry. Wait. The Carebear had a blackberry???.. And service?.. Maybe he would know the score to the FSU game??.. I tried to engage the bear in conversation, but he just continued to work on his Careberry and ignored my advances. Clearly, this bear was of the New York born and raised variety, which explained his standoffish attitude. So much for shiny dispositions and cute rainbow tummies. Jerk.

At the next stop, a drunk kid stumbled on to the train clutching a bag of McDonalds and what remained of his dignity after an apparently very happy happy hour. A groggy mess, he made his way to an empty seat two spots away from me. The smell of the dollar beers, the dollar menu, and greasy fries wafted towards me, and I found myself both repulsed and suddenly hungry. Snap out of it Jenn. We haven’t had McDonald’s since those late nights in Tallahassee, no sense in starting now. He began to rummage through the bag, and pulled its contents out onto his makeshift table-- the lap of his Diesel Jeans. The scenes that followed resembled something out of a Hannibal Lecter movie, as he devoured his double quarterpounder with cheese like one of those lions on National Geographic. I sat and watched both in utter disgust and sheer amusement as ketchup smeared across his face. He had little or no regard to the attention his bad table manners were drawing, and continued to enjoy his drunk eating binge.

The train pulled into its next Brooklyn stop, and a man with a long white beard and a cane hobbled on with a bag full of home-printed literature. I watched as he steadied himself and walked about the moving train surveying its passengers. One by one, he eyed them up and down, until he stopped in front of Ronald McDrunkerson, and pointed his cane directly in his face. McDrunkerson stopped mid-chew, and stared at the old man with drunken bewilderment.

“This is the face of gluttony!!!.. Of sin, of Greed!!!”

Well, at least he got the gluttony part right. But don’t hate the man for loving his fast food.

He continued to wander down the row until he stopped in front of me.

“And you,” he said. “You are the face of Temptation and Lust.”

To which I replied, “Easy there Gandalf. Don’t you have a ring to save or something??”

My fellow passengers chuckled.

Clearly, missing my Lord of the Rings reference, he moved on to the next victim. One by one, like some scary Wizard from World of Warcraft, he pointed to different passengers on the train and cast out their sins and weaknesses. God, where was Leroy Jenkins when you needed him?... He proceeded to tell us about the plight of the Jews, and how there were no “real” Jews left anymore except for the ones in Israel. The rest were Orange Jews, Apple Jews, and Cranberry Jews. I snickered under my breath. Gotta appreciate a crazy person with a sense of humor. Finally, when he reached the end of the car, he turned around to face us all, threw up his hands in some utter gibberish… and closed his eyes as if he had disappeared. Um, no… sorry sir.. we still see you. He turned back to the door, to move to the next car, and slammed the door behind him. The entire car erupted in laughter. It wasn’t exactly a Saturday afternoon church service, but it was as spiritual as a subway ride gets.

Half way through Brooklyn, and still no where near my destination. The train had nearly cleared itself out. The drunk had wandered off after finishing his meal; though I’m pretty sure he had no clue where he was heading. The Carebear had vacated his seat and moved to another car when Merlin came through. Now all that was left was me, a cute boy with one of those trendy haircuts, and a homeless guy. Well, maybe he wasn’t homeless, but he certainly had a phobia of showering.

The cute boy had situated himself in the seat next to me, which was a welcomed change from the Drunk Cannibal. He introduced himself. His name was Ryann, with two N’s. We spent the next several stops exchanging commentary on the day’s events. This guy was totally vibing me. He laughed at my jokes, my cute little quips, and seemed generally interested in our conversation. Then, I asked him if he knew the FSU score which he quickly denied. Turns out, he really wasn’t much of a sports fan, but he could name the entire cast of Gypsy. Hmm.. Something wasn’t quite right.. this boy.. was just “too pretty” and too put together. He matched everything down to shoes perfectly. He had one of those trendy messenger bags instead of a Jansport. And he even…. Knew my bag was the new Coach line. Jenn. Wait. Your subway car named “Desire” is gay. Damn it, another one bites the dust.

The next stop was the last for my new shopping partner. We exchanged Facebook invites, and went our separate ways. Now, it was just me… and the Ablutophobe. And here is where my adventures took a turn for the worst. The train was now deep in the heart of Brooklyn, and there was no one getting on or off. Or so I thought.

Apparently, Metro Transit of NYC was doing work on the 2 Line that weekend and that meant they had extended delays and stops along the track. I felt like I was at Disneyland, trapped on “It’s a Small World,” while they retrieved some kids mouse ears from the lagoon in the Hawaiian room. So there we sat. Me and the human form of Oscar the Grouch. I kept my head down and focused on my blackberry and made no eye contact with my fellow passenger. He on the other hand, watched me intently, following my every move. The train came to a dead stop. We weren’t at a stop, or even in a well lit area. The lights on the train flickered. What the hell is going on?.. Is this out of some kind of horror movie?..Was I being punk’d? What ever it was.. I wanted out. When the lights came back up, Oscar was sitting across from me, like the “Me Scusie” guy in Eurotrip…. with no pants on. Turns out I wasn’t being punk’d, I was being junk’d.

There he sat. In all his 60-something-year-old glory, or what was left of it. He stared at me, expressionless waiting to get a reaction out of me, but I gave him nothing. The train suddenly started moving again, and within minutes we had reached the place where the subway turns around. When the doors opened, I leapt from my seat, turned to Oscar and said…”Maybe try it in the summer, not so much shrinkage.” And then, I ran. Reaching the top of the stairs proved to be like digging a huge hole in a bad cartoon, the kind where you emerged on the other side and a Chinese man was staring at you eating fried rice. I was in an entirely different country, but at least I had survived my journey.

It turns out that even with my crazy adventures; I still managed to make my audition time. I slated for the camera, gave them my best smile.. then was asked to do improve about a day in my life.

“Boy do I have a story for you… “

The ride home was far less eventful than the trek to Brooklyn thank god. After I had finished refilling my subway card at Penn, I noticed a family of tourists struggling to figure out the card dispensing machines. The dad was flailing his arms around, while the wife watched in embarrassment while trying to keep tabs on her two kids in the busy subway platform. Hoping my act of kindness would inspire others; I walked over and showed them how to buy a Metrocard for their stay. The two parents thanked me graciously, as they herded their kids through the turnstiles. As I turned to walk up the stairs they asked.. “Hey, by the way.. do you know how to get to Brooklyn??”

I smiled. They had no idea what they were in for.


Steve said...

This entry is glorious. Sounds like some adventures I've had on the Max in Portland, Or. Keep 'em comin!

JOEY said...

What a funnt ass story!! The only Subway's we have here in FLA have 12 inches for 5 bucks.. Maybe the Flasher should have went there!!!LMAO!!! Just something else NY is known for now... "Little Meat Scooters"

Toooo Funny Jenn!!

Thanks for the laugh!!


Andrew T. said...

I've always been a big fan of the Bernadette Peters line from _Pink Cadillac_: "Wow, that looks just like a penis, only smaller!"

Anonymous said...

post more pictures

C in Cal said...

Riding the subway is fun! Originally from Florida myself, I have a blast riding the subways up in New York when I go visit family. And I have fun when riding the subways over in Cal too.

For some people, sometimes when you hop on a train, you also seem to hop into an interesting adventure that comes along with it.

Keep hopping on!

Anonymous said...

next time around use is no reason why you should be taking the Path to 33rd to switch to the 2 train if you are going to Brooklyn. You should have taken it to World Trade and switched downtown. Could have saved you at least 45 minutes and half the battles for Middle Earth.

Frodo Baggins

Veritas said...

Its incredible Jenn, sometimes I have the feeling you dont live in New York but rather Silent Hill, and Im not refering to the movie because it really sucks but rather the Silent Hill from the games (home of the weird and strange things).
It seams that everything that can happen to you, happens or will happen.
Giant carebear, the evil brother of Gandalf, drunken guys and simply horny guys; it seams you really entered Silent Hill or at least The Twilight Zone.
But least face it, it could have been worst; the drunken guy could have been seated right next to you and being drunk...well we cant really blame him for doing something stupid, like droping some ketchup or mostard on your clothes, so in that case you were extremily lucky.
The Evil Gandalf well what can one say...there are all sort of people in this world, and the part of "Temptation" well that only proved he wasnt totally crazy.
About the carebear there isnt much to say except we all have to live and have money, if wearing a carebear coustume was is way of living...well its a little sad but that is also life.
The old guy that keeped staring at you and did that really ridiculous thing to you, just forget about it, if I was to think about all the weird things Ive seen in my life I wouldnt have time to live my normal life.
The guy you thought that he was gay or something like that...there isnt much to say about him, is it?
If he is or isnt, its not for me or you to judge; you said it yourself you had a good time with him so at least you might have found a good friend and that whats important.
All and all you made your audition in time and that is the most important thing.
By the way what was the audition for?
At the end of the day all went well and you returned home with yor mission acomplished and with a new experience to latter remember and even have fun remembering it.