I don’t take the subway to work. I don’t even walk to work. If you count rolling out of bed, maybe putting on half-decent clothes before stumbling to the coffee machine in my apartment, then yes, you can say I walk to work. But for the most part, let’s go with no. I do not.
But I do get on the subway. And when I do, I ride that shit hard. I will begrudgingly get on the subway to make trips to Trader Joe’s or Other Important Places, but those are relatively short adventures. I don’t have enough time to get through an entire Spotify playlist, or read an entire page of my current book and actually absorb the material. It’s a quickie kind of deal. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll miss my desired stop. Which I have done on many occasions since moving to this city. It’s fine. I whip myself at night as punishment. Don’t tell me you don’t get off on public humiliation.
The longer subway voyages are far more mentally stimulating. I’m talking like 45 minutes on the D train uptown on a Friday at 6pm. You don’t need me to tell you how that goes. It’s like everyone is involuntarily planning Sardines and Musical Chairs. It sounds funny, but it’s really not. These are probably the times I actually have time to think on the train. I read a lot, yes, but sometimes I get nervous about not paying attention on a crowded subway (or even an empty one), and sit there like a five-year-old waiting for her Easy-Bake brownies to be ready.
So I think. I ponder. I space-out. I day (subway?)-dream. Whatever you want to call it, I do it. It’s something we all do, particularly when we’re trying to get from point A to point B. These are the things I think about:
Not pissing other people off. Every minute I spend on my phone on the train, I die a little. There’s no damn wifi (even though it says there is), and even if there was, what the fuck would I look at? That photo of my brother’s girlfriend’s sister’s coworker who lives in Maine but used to live in Texas and just got a new golden doodle puppy? How did I even get there? No. No, no. I’d rather stare at the floor or the shitty advertisements on the train ceiling. The problem, though, is that people’s feet are in the way. So now I’m looking at people’s feet. At their toenails, their cankles, their shoes. And I can’t just zone out on one pair of feet — my resting bitch face will probably cause me to get punched or spit on by the next asshole who thinks I’m judging them (I am, you dick).
But really — I spend more time pretending not to look at people’s feet or butts (not sorry) just so I can get lost in my thoughts uninterrupted. This is where dark sunglasses become quite useful.
Whether or not I should give money to the subway performers. Sometimes I feel like a real asshole for not wanting to shell out a buck for someone who’s playing the accordion with their eyes closed, or someone pole dancing. Sometimes I feel even worse when I want to give someone cash because of their dope pipes, but have none. (New York is a city made of cash and it’s the bane of my fucking existence I hate carrying cash ok.) And then it doesn’t even become about the performer anymore. It turns into this selfish self-evaluation of whether or not I am a good person, and how my karma is now totally fucked because it sounds like I’m trying to justify not doing anything in the first place. From there, it turns into some real petty, dark self-observations, and I end up resenting that awesome cover of Tegan and Sara’s “I Feel You in My Bones” cover because I realize I really am an asshole who needs to meditate in the mornings more often. God fucking damn it. This is also where I avoid eye contact with said performers and any one who has a pure enough soul to throw some dollars their way. I am a horrible human.
Playing the “What If” game. Don’t judge me on this one. Or do, I don’t care. This is where I sit (or stand) and think about all the random shit that comes into my brain, completely unfiltered. These thoughts aren’t clouded by anything, and sometimes pop into my head as quickly as people shove their way off the subway. Most of the time the particular train I’m on becomes its own parallel universe, of which I am an inhabitant. I think about the relations I would (or wouldn’t have) with some of the people on the train. Like, if that dude who keeps staring at my rack actually made eye contact with me, would I sock him in the face? Or would I ask out that chick with the cute butt who also has obnoxiously large glasses? And what about that one chick I used to date, would I talk to her if she were here too? Or my mom’s boss who is the sweetest dude ever dealing with a shitty potential divorce — did he really divorce his man? Or my old friend from high school, what is she up to? I think we follow each other on Instagram. It’s not like we ended things on a bad note. Like my ex from college, who really was an asshole. Gross, I can’t believe I let that happen. Why didn’t anyone stop me? Ugh, why do I still make bad choices? And why haven’t I started wearing my night guard again?
Go ahead, judge me. But you and I both know you do it too.