19 December 2014
Writing this from the New York subway — leaning against one of those ugly painted steel columns on the boarding platform at the moment. In a few minutes I’ll be getting on the G to return from my new employer’s office in Brooklyn to the room I’m renting in Queens, which takes an hour, give or take, depending on how you do it and whether the trains are on schedule.
I’m no longer new to the subway. I’ve been getting acquainted for two years now, on my visits to see S. (Before that, I’d been an occasional user of the much smaller, much cleaner, vastly less complicated D.C. Metro. In Baltimore, on the other hand, I’ve never used either bus or train — what train there is to speak of.) So I’m in no great danger of getting lost, say, especially as I depend on a smart phone (by way of which I’m also writing this, of course) and the seemingly perfect fingertip knowledge of Google Maps. What I am new to, though, is daily living with public transportation. That’s a noteworthy fact, here, because I’ve been a somewhat vocal supporter of a general American transit systems revival for several years — and a somewhat vocal complainer about having to live with cars for somewhat longer. Now I’m putting my money where my mouth is, in a manner of speaking. I didn’t come to New York for this, obviously, but I couldn’t come here without becoming an everyday subway user in the bargain. My circumstances don’t allow otherwise. For the near term, at least, I’ve left my beat-up minivan in Maryland. It’s only been two weeks, but I don’t miss it.
That’s not to say that I love the subway. Having to drive everywhere for years has gotten to be hard on me, but being a hurried & harried part of the New York public-in-transit, a subject of her public transport services, under ground or above, is going to be hard on me too, no question.