New York City On Time
I dodge an old woman pushing a handcart and slide through the door swinging shut behind her. My subway card is out and ready. I push through the turnstile and dash down the stairs to the platform where I weave through the disembarking passengers. Both trains are there, the B express through Brooklyn and the Q Broadway express. I have one second to decide.
1:13 pm and three seconds:
I have to get to 8th Avenue and 38th street in Manhattan by 2 pm. My one second thought goes something like this: The B skips Cortelyou, Beverly, and Parkside in Brooklyn, but takes three stops to get to West 4th in Manhattan where I’ll transfer to the A/C/E and ride another three or four stops, depending if I catch an express or not, before getting to 8th and 42nd, whereas the Q hits the three stops in Brooklyn, but only stops three times after crossing the Manhattan Bridge before Times Square, so the B will be one less stop if I can catch the uptown A express and the added time of a transfer will be negligible compared to the two avenue blocks I’ll have to walk to get from the Q station in Times Square to my office.
1:13 pm and four seconds:
I jump into the closing doors of the B train, get stuck, and wait for the conductor to open and close the doors in what is either is an attempt to release me or an attempt to crush my body for delaying the departure. There is a woman with a stroller, two teenagers, and a group of five soccer players all moving toward the middle of the train where the last two remaining seats are open. The train lurches forward, knocking them off balance, and I take advantage, sliding into a seat and closing my eyes. I drift into a mass transit half-sleep and vaguely hope the woman with the stroller made it to the other seat.
The conductor says something about transferring to the F, V, D, A, C, and E trains, pulling me from my trance. I stand and wait with the stroller woman (apparently she didn’t get the seat) for the train to slow and let us off.
The doors open and I leap ahead of the woman and her time-consuming stroller, run up the stairs two at a time, and get to the upper platform just as the A train is closing its doors. I jump in, get stuck, and wait for the conductor to open and close the doors and release/crush my body.
The doors open at 42nd Street – Port Authority. It is too hot to run without sweating, but I am too late to make it by 2 pm without running. I run up the stairs. I run through the underground station to 40th Street.
I run up more stairs. I run to 38th Street, narrowly avoiding being hit by a van at 39th.
I stop in front of my office, retuck my shirt, and walk in, sweaty, but on time.