The Subway: A New Yorker's Take | Teen Ink

The Subway: A New Yorker's Take

December 12, 2014
By LeoTheLion BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
LeoTheLion BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
3 articles 10 photos 0 comments

I consider myself a New Yorker. I live in Brooklyn, so this is subject to some controversy. But Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs and I spend most of my time in Manhattan, so whether you like it or not, I am a proud citizen of this city. Now a large part of any New Yorker's regular day out on the town will involve, in some capacity, the crowded, litter-filled, dank and loveable underground wasteland of a transit system that is the subway. I've come to realize that over the years I've inhabited The Big Apple, I've developed very strong opinions and feelings about the various trains in the subway system. They all have some meaning to me, and invoke some sort of reaction when I see them come into view from the dark abyss of a tunnel.


First, there are the casual acquaintance trains. These are the trains that one can't normally find me waiting for, but I still cross paths with often enough to complain about them to my friends sometimes. “The G was going super slow today,” I'll explain to my fellow actors when they ask me why I'm late to rehearsal in Williamsburg, and they'll all nod their head understandingly. “Ugh, the 4 is so crowded this time of day,” I'll groan to my friend and classmate as we make the climb up to the Met for our history class field trips. Trains I take occasionally, for one specific reason, fall under this category. I probably wouldn't invite one of these trains over for my birthday, but I'll still check up with what they're up to on Facebook from time to time.

Then there are the trains I've truly grown to hate. It's not necessarily their fault, I'm sure the Q and the F and the A are okay guys, but I just want to punch them in the headlight every time I see them come around the bend. Whenever I'm at Columbus Circle, waiting for the D so I can go home after a busy day, that smug blue-faced A comes rushing around the corner. And every time I'm at Union Square or 8th St, awaiting an N or R, who should show up but that Q guy? God, I despise that Q guy. He's always trudging along without a care in the world, and he always seems to grin and wave so chipperly when he rolls into the station. Like, “What are you so happy about, Q?”

There are many trains in the city, and while it's possible that one day I'll be able to say I've had the privilege of having ridden every single one, I have a number of trains to go before that day is nigh. Certain trains are complete strangers to me, and not the random stranger that you bump into on the street by accident and never see again, either. They're the stranger that I keep bumping into every day that I'm in a certain part of the city, and yet never do I become closer acquainted with them. The J and the Z are the two old ladies who just always seem to be around whenever I'm at the grocery store, and the M is like my friend D's awkward cousin who's at a lot of the same parties I go to, but we never actually speak. But the that train wins the grand prize of being personified as the strange pacing man on the street corner by the bowling alley, with the purple fedora and the coat that looks like it's been set on fire several times, that would have to be the 7. I don't know where he comes from, what he's doing there, or where he's going, but I certainly don't care enough to find out.

And finally we come to the D, the N, and the R. These trains are my best friends. Whenever I have a problem, I'm lost and confused, or I just need a little bit of support, these trains have my back all the way. I've known the R since I was little, as that train lives (or has its end-stop) just a few blocks a way from my house. R's friend N soon followed, as the two of them already hung out all the time and the three of us make a great team. As for the D, well, I met the D last of all, but we immediately hit it off. We're into a bunch of the same things (8th Avenue) and even though sometimes we have our differences – like the time it stopped for a full twenty minutes between 7th Ave and Columbus Circle – the D means something really special to me: I only have to make one transfer in Brooklyn to efficiently get me anywhere on the West Side.

Some may think it's crazy to think of the trains the way I do, but I think that after living in NYC for so long and having them be such a big part of my life, it would've been crazier not to. And with a subway system that's so complex and intricately constructed, there's always more for me to learn about my city. Who knows, maybe I'll grow to befriend that man in the purple hat who's always pacing outside the bowling alley. Maybe I'll end up cat-sitting for those old ladies in the grocery store. Perhaps I'll even rethink my feelings about the A, F, and Q trains one day (don't hold your breath). They say New York is a city of personality, but a city comes from hundreds of individual personalities. And those personalities are in everything around us, from the trains that rumble underground (and sometimes overhead) to we, the people that walk the streets. And so it may be less crazy than it first appears to think of trains the way I do, the way I wonder if every New Yorker does. The way that, whether or not it is shared by the rest of us, makes me a New Yorker.

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