News Flash, the subway is full of humans

I mean living in NYC is hard- it is always incredibly busy, filled with pollution and craze. But there are some days when you feel accustom to the pandemonium and the intensity can turn into a nice hum of movement. Occasionally I am able to tune out most things and feel as though I am walking through the living room of my apartment. This is because you can literally scream the lyrics to your favorite song and dance through the subway station and 90% of the people will stare blankly. A true New Yorker has no reaction. I imagine they are thinking, "yeah that blonde chick is kind of weird- but not as weird as __________" You can fill in the blank with any sort of story. This week I saw someone puking into a drinking fountain, a rat the size of a loaf of bread and a guy in a spiderman costume pick his epic wedgie. Your input sensory is so high that you glaze over most things and focus on where you are headed to go. 

However this week I was reminded how all these bodies around me are actually humans with stories.

I was taking the Q train home to Brooklyn after a long day and was in turbo tune out mode. All the sudden I heard  "TAKE THIS TRAIN TO 42nd STREET THEN TRANSFER TO THE 7, DO YOU KNOW WHAT TRANSFER MEANS??" I glance over to see a young man with pimpled complexion, a heart shaped face and a grey baggy Columbia t-shirt on attempting to give directions. He seemed flustered that he couldn't communicate clearly. The old woman he was helping just stared back at him blankly. His lips pursed as he spat "DO YOU GET IT? I HAVE TO GO NOW. ALRIGHT, GOOD LUCK" in that moment we locked eyes and it was like I had just been found peering into my neighbors house, I got caught. He fussed with his dirty blonde hair and gave me a half nod with raised eyebrows and glanced back at the old woman. No words exchanged but intent was clear. We were in a game of NYC tourist tag and I had just been tagged "it". He then bustled up some stairs and disappeared. 

I approached the older woman tentatively. She had a bright blue dress on with coral flowers and smelled like African incense. Her hair was tied into a large piece of stiff fabric that felt exotic, tribal and looked difficult to put on. One of her weathered hands rested on a brown wooden cane and the other clenched the handle of a broken green roller suit case. I'm still not sure what country she was from in Africa but it was safe to say that she did not know how to get to Queens. 

She smiled at me as I played charades explaining that I to was stopping at 42nd street and could help her transfer. I grinned back and without saying a word to each other but standing like teammates we waited for the train. Eventually the screaming Q line came blundering through the station and screeched to a halt. I grabbed her 2 bags and broken roller bag (that I SWEAR was full of rocks) and bumped my way on, turning to give her a hand through the crowd. I then used my "Mj stink eye" to glare someone out of their seat and let my new African grandma sit comfortably.

I have never been to Queens before, so when trying to find her next transfer I made a couple of mistakes- I went up the elevator but should have taken it down a floor, then dragged her broken rock filled roller bag and all our other belongings, (totaling at 6 bags) halfway down the wrong end of the platform before realizing there weren't any stairs. The whole time she hobbled cane in hand behind me repeating "Jamaica Center, Queens" and I mumbled curse words between getting us lost and giggling at how funny this situation was. What a pair, us two. 

As a proud usher of the underground we finally made it to the right platform right as her next train was arriving. It was more full than the first one, so I spoke extra loud when the doors opened and explained what stop she needed to transfer. She had a 50 minute ride to Queens and it was getting late, so I let her continue on her journey without me. I felt a pang of responsibility for this 80 year old, wrinkly African beauty. Similar to the feeling parents probably feel when they send their kids to kindergarten, so I looked around and locked eye contact with a plain looking girl with short hair and a yellow blouse, did a half nod and looked back to my new friend. It was a game of NYC tourist tag and she was it. 

There weren't any words exchanged in the 20 minutes of time we spent together except "God bless you" as I hopped out of her train car and waved goodbye. What a nice reminder that we are all humans in this world, just trying to connect our trains.