so i'm on the subway late this afternoon that's heading uptown. it's packed with gobs of people wearing bulky coats with all kinds of things strapped to themselves. backpacks. toddlers. groceries. whatever. the train keeps stopping and starting all the way up the line. herky-jerky. we get going, we slow down, we stop and then we get going all over again. sometimes when the train would pull into a station, it would just sit there with the doors open like something was wrong. and then they'd make an announcement for everyone to please be patient, which would make everyone lose whatever patience they had. there was this collective groan and a few people decide to walk to the nearest bus stop. God only knows what buses are even running or what the streets are like. and then the doors would close abrubtly and we'd start up all over again with the stopping and starting, all the way uptown.
i was so tired, i was nodding off standing up. as soon as i was almost gone, my knees would buckle violently and i would come to and we'd be at a standstill again, somewhere in the upper west side.
we were in between stations at this particular pause for the cause and even though we hadn't been sitting there for very long, it felt as though we had been waiting around forever. everyone was getting a little wound up. and then, out of the quiet that sometimes happens when the train is completely full, a little girl started to say, in sing-song, "he's throwing up again..." i heard a small child wretch. whatever was in him hit the floor with a resounding splat. and then whatever it was kept hitting the floor, in spurts. you could hear his stomach wringing itself out, like a filthy washrag. there was no getting away from it.
after finally making the little girl stop singing like some nutso mynah bird, a man's voice said to the train, in this really helpless hopeful way, does anyone have any napkins or anything? in an instant, everything that had the ability to absorb--from kleenex to newspaper--was daisy chained over to the three of them. i could tell by listening to them talk that they probably got on at 42nd street after a long day of running around and eating things that they weren't used to and that they were white, definitely tourists from outside of the region. farther out west, maybe.
the train came to life as abrubtly as it had stopped and everything started to move. the next thing i knew, we were above 96th street but i was still pressed into the corner on the nod. by the time i got out at my stop, the train had finally cleared. i don't know why but i actually looked for the pile of wet newspapers that everyone was stepping on as they made their exit.