Why I Love New Yorkers
I'll get to the I Love New Yorkers part in a minute but first I have to say, HATE the goddamn MTA.
This past Saturday night, I was on my way to Don Hill's too meet a friend. Transferring from the L train at the 6th avenue/14th street station, I ran down the steps to the Downtown 1/2/3 platform around 11:15 to find a train waiting with the doors still open -- score! I jumped on the train, the doors closed and well, you know what happens next. The train starts hurtling UPTOWN. Express, no less. Great. So much for being on time.
Now, I had carefully read the "Weekend Service Advisories" email that the MTA helpfully sends me each week and there was no mention of this (nothing about the L train running on one track Friday night, either). Our transit system S.U.C.K.S.
Anyway. At 34th street I disembark the wrong-way train and run across to the Downtown platform and once again, there's a train waiting to go. I run aboard and sit down.
The car was pretty full, being Saturday night and all. Sitting to my left was one of these schizophrenic types you've seen a thousand times in this city, seemingly in his own bubble, babbling and shouting at no one in particular, having a screaming match with the voices in his head. I pay him no mind. It always seems to be the best policy and besides, I've never seen one of these guys actually engage another person and to that extent I've always considered them harmless.
However it turned out this guy wasn't harmless. He stood up suddenly and started screaming at this poor little Asian dude. It was a bunch of incomprehensible gibberish, but the guy suddenly seemed alot less innocuous.
A big fellow who was standing nearby told the crazy dude to sit down and leave the kid alone. Then Schizo started yelling at Big Guy, and even took a halfhearted swing at him. Big Guy says, "I'm bigger than you are. And I'm telling you to sit the fuck down."
By now people on the train are watching. I myself am keeping an eye on the action by way of the reflection in the window, rather than staring directly at the combatants. Schizo is standing with his back to me and I'm still seated. What happened next was a total surprise, to say the least.
From out of no where, Schizo wheeled around in a flash and punched yours truly right in the nose, full strength. I put my head down between my knees. As blood streamed out of my face onto the floor of the subway car (along with my nose ring, as I found out later), the car erupted. People were freaking out on Schizo, and asking me if I needed help. The train pulled into a station about half a second later.
I had my head down to keep the blood off my clothes and didn't catch all the action but Schizo was swiftly ejected from the train as soon as the doors opened. I looked out the window and saw that it was 14th street and decided I'd better get out so I could transfer to the L train and go back home.
Out on the platform, Schizo had vanished, but strangers came up to me offering tissues, water, a walk to the hospital, whatever. I didn't think I needed to go to the hospital but I walked up to the newsstand guy for some napkins so I could mop up and look less like Sissy Spacek in Carrie. Another group of people saw me and said, "who did that to you?! you want us to go get him?!?" I politely declined. I wasn't in the mood for a manhunt; I just wanted to get home and clean up, which was what I did.
I know that people wouldn't necessarily have been that helpful in other cities. It's a shame that New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude because the truth is that they keep to themselves, but when you really need it, they will back you up in a heartbeat. I have English friends who have said that while the Brits are lovely and polite, they are not ones to get involved in a conflict like that; someone gives you trouble on the tube and you're on your own.
It was incredibly cool of Big Guy to step in on behalf of the Asian kid. He didn't have to do that. It was awesome to have total strangers willing to suddenly drop all their plans to give me a hand.
Any time I've ever been in trouble in New York City (and it always seems to be on the 1/2/3 line, incidentally!), someone has always come to my aid. Every single time.
New Yorkers fucking kick ass. Thank you.
ps....next time you see one of those crazy dudes on the train, go sit in another car.