Challenge,  Travel Around

Day 3: Observations from the Underground

For those who haven’t visited New York City, the subway seems to have this ominous presence that instigates fear of gang war, violence, filth and theft.

That hasn’t been my experience. Only once in all the times I’ve ridden the train did we encounter vomit or horrifying smells, and that was quickly remedied by hopping out of the car and into another one.

The New York MTA’s subway system is the best — and cheapest — way to get around the city. For $29, you can ride unlimited trips on the subway for seven days. Believe me, we put that to good use. For Zach, we had to buy a month-long pass for $104. At $2.50 per ride, buying the passes saves a fortune and allows you to be unrestricted in your travel around the city.

Instead of gang members preying on helpless citizens, the travelers on the subway are simply workers getting from Point A to Point B or tourists, chatting, clutching travel guides and frantically looking for their stops. Based on the time of day and direction the trains are traveling, the flavor of riders changes. For instance, trains headed to Times Square at night will often have either dressed-up party-goers or tourists looking like they’re visiting Willy Wonka. Shortly after the work day, you see the tired, weary workers heading home, oftentimes on trains leading out of Manhattan to one of the other four boroughs.

Yes, our experiences with the subway have been positive, but I have also seen some interesting people, including the mariachi band that climbed aboard our car this morning and treated us to a little music on our commute.

Here are some other intriguing people I saw today:

• The woman with a baby book that had sticky notes all through it. She marked it with a pencil and seemed to be studying strollers. On second glance, I noticed this tiny, petite woman had the small beginnings of a baby bump. She’s going to be an educated, intense mother.

• The woman in hospital scrubs wheeling a suitcase. Based on her appearance and the fact it was early evening and she was headed out of the city, I guessed she probably worked at a hospital. She talked to herself and gave her seat to an elderly man in very dark sunglasses. Why did she have the rolling suitcase?

• The two early-20s women who chatted like high school girls about who was dating whom and when they last hooked up (a term that doesn’t mean what it meant when I was growing up). I almost felt like the whole conversation was for my benefit as they talked about where they were going and making sure the one was back for the other’s birthday.

• The young professional lady with a small bag from Saks Fifth Avenue with a flowchart on the side about what to buy a guy. She poured over a piece of paper, made notes on it and barely looked up. The lady next to her, who was about the same age and traveling separate, didn’t look up either, because her eyes were firmly planted on the piece of paper.

• There are so many more, but this one is my favorite, and I’m still pondering on him. A middle-aged man, dressed very nicely, carried two medium-sized shopping bags. One was from Macy’s and the other from Victoria’s Secret. That’s still not unusual. One could say he may have bought a gift for his wife or girlfriend. However, the bags were stuffed with used women’s high-heeled shoes. The bottoms were scuffed and they were haphazardly tossed in the bag.

I’d love to create a story around this one character. Give him an odd life or addiction or… well, I’ll keep that to myself, and when you see it on the big screen or in your local bookstore, you’ll know where the idea originated.

So, see, there’s nothing to worry about on the subway. People pretty much leave each other alone.

It’s too bad we can’t carry that same philosophy over to other areas of life.

Things that happened today:

• Zach had orientation and got his class schedule. With seven classes, he’s a bit overwhelmed, but he did travel the subway by himself and did just fine.

• We entered the lottery for The Book of Mormon, but didn’t get tickets. Gonna try again tomorrow.

• We were too late to get rush tickets to Once, but we are also trying that again tomorrow.

• We saw Richard Belzer going into the Gerald Shoenfeld Theatre today. He’s Munch from “Law and Order: SVU.”

• We had a nice dinner at 5 Napkin Burger in Hells Kitchen. Rod and Tyler had the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Zach had Chipotle Mac and Cheese and I had sushi. Excellent food. We sat outside, which was quieter than eating inside. The funny thing is, as we were walking down the sidewalk, one of Zach’s new friends from school was having dinner outside at the neighboring restaurant. He hollered a greeting and then everyone was introduced, with pleasantries all around. See, New York isn’t THAT big of a city.

• With Tyler, we walked down the Financial District, saw Ground Zero and sat for a bit in Trinity Church.

• We watched street performers in Times Square.

Overall, we had a really wonderful day. While the boys ventured off into the city together, Rodney and I headed back to our hotel. We were afraid we were going to miss our shuttle car from the subway to the hotel, since service ends at 10 p.m. We got in the room, changed into jammies, complained a lot about how tired and sore we were, then looked over at the alarm clock at the time.

“Is that right?” I asked.

“No, it isn’t,” Rodney said.

“Are you sure?”


I looked over at the time on my iPad. It was the same as the clock.


Rodney just looked at me, then said, “Man, we’re getting old.”

He added, “Geez, 8:45 on a Saturday.”

I laughed at him.

“Honey, it’s Thursday.”

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