It Was the Best of Times…No, It Was the Worst of Times: a Quick Look Back at One Man’s MTA Experience in 2013

The subways don't look like this anymore, but there's still some problems.

The Straphanger Campaigns recently released a list of the Top Ten Best and Worst MTA moments in 2013. We were instantly reminded of how pissed off we were when fares went up in March, and how much the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy still reverberate today. But also, we were reminded that it could all be much, much worse.  Well, it could be worse, but it’s still pretty bad. In fact, I have to say, I felt slightly let down by the list compiled by the Straphanger’s Campaign. It’s not that this list isn’t accurate, but it’s too broad for me to really relate to—it’s all just a little overwhelming. They’re talking billions of dollars, millions of people, God-knows-how-many rats. So, in an effort to personalize and scale down to human-size the lows of the MTA in 2013 (and because a good rant never hurt anybody) I give you my own personal best and worst MTA moments of 2013.

The Worst:

The time is 2:30am. I’m nearing the end of my 12 block walk to the 2nd Avenue F train, and it’s raining like hell. I don’t really care because I just spent the last two hours pounding shots of Evan Williams, but the tiny sober man in me is sending unmistakable signals: I. Need. Bed.

I descend into the dark depths of the Houston Street entrance, leaving behind me a flooded and somnolent East Village. I could have avoided all this walking by taking the L, but I’d had a flashback of my previous night’s dream, in which an L train with shark teeth chased me down a dimly lit subway tunnel, a malevolent G train in the distance, blocking my path… The F train to Jay Street just seemed like the less terrifying option.

So here I am, slowly walking down the slippery steps to New York’s underbelly, kind of regretting my real-men-don’t-need-umbrellas stance, but mostly craving a Philly cheese steak, reflecting on my dream from last night:

Trapped between the shark-toothed L and the evil, green-eyed cyclops G, out of breath and my survival instinct slowly giving way, I spot my salvation. To my left, between two hastily-painted graffitis, I see a faint glow peeking through a crack in the dusty wall. The trains are huffing and puffing, getting ready for their final charge, and I turn and run towards the light. 

It’s an exit! I’m saved! 

But the MTA has other plans, and right as I try to jump off the rails and into the welcoming warmth, I hit an invisible obstacle. I look down, and to my horror, standing between me and my freedom, is a thin line of red and white tape. That’s when, seemingly out of nowhere, an MTA employee approaches and puts his hand on my shoulder. “No more trains to Brooklyn tonight, you need to take the Q to the 7 and there will be a shuttle bus that will possibly take you to Brooklyn, or was it the Bronx?” The L and the G pounce, and I wake up with a scream, my bed drowned in the cold sweat of terror.

What a nightmare! But at least it was a dream, right? And I don’t have to live that horror in real life? Wrong. So, so wrong.

Because here I am standing in the 2nd Avenue station now, at 2:30am, my mouth slightly gaping, still trembling from the vivid and violent flashback I’ve just had—a flashback that turns out to be more of a premonition. What’s this red and white tape? What could it possibly be doing here? I try to regain my composure. I pinch the red and white tape. It’s real. I collapse in despair, curl up on the ground and start sobbing like a little girl. An MTA employee casually walks by and utters the six most dreaded words in the English language: “No F trains to Brooklyn tonight.”

The Best:

That one time I didn’t have to wait for the G train.


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