Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's Just A Thing

There are some mornings in New York City where there seems to be a poltergeist screwing up ALL the subway lines. On these mornings, it honestly feels like you have to do battle just to get to work. People stagger into their offices, hollow-eyed, feeling like they should be able to go home (preferably in a taxi) and crawl into bed instead of dealing with the workday only to face subway hell again on the way home.

One such morning, my colleague Jane told us a story about her nightmare getting to work. She was on a very crowded 1 train heading downtown, when the train slowed down and finally stopped cold in the tunnel. No information was forthcoming from the conductor (this is always very nerve wracking). People stood, uncomfortably smashed up against each other, silently praying for the train to start again. At a certain point though, people released their hold on the overhead bars, put down their packages, started removing coats - settling in for the long haul.

As usual during these experiences, there were a couple of people in Jane's car who started to hyperventilate and panic. New Yorkers are good at helping people like this. Someone will pass a paper bag down the car for the person to breathe into, or a bottle of water; or people will help take off coats and scarves, offer their seats, pats on the back, and smiles and words of reassurance and comfort.

This day though, one of the people who had a hard time was a pregnant woman who started to get woozy and nauseated. Suddenly and uncontrollably, she vomited all over her own lap. She started to weep and apologize to everyone on the car for the smell, and was clearly horribly humiliated and upset.

"There was a very well dressed man next to this pregnant woman," Jane told us. " He took off his cashmere scarf and gave it to her to clean herself up. Still in tears, she protested that she couldn't accept it, but he pressed it on her and said with a smile, 'My wife is pregnant too. I hope someone would help her.'"

Sigh! I got the shivers!