When I first moved to NYC the subway system was something that was completely foreign to me.
Sadly, Cincinnati, Ohio finds no need to invest in public transportation. But I won’t completely bash my hometown, we do have the Metro bus system however, it is nothing like New York.
For a Midwestern girl , the New York subways can be a very scary experience. I owe my success exclusively to my smart phone and websites like Googlemaps and HopStop.
I remember how nervous I was in the beginning of every journey. I had a crackberry that would hardly hold a charge for more than a few hours, and I couldnt understand the concept of express verses local trains. I over compensated for my inadequate phone by keeping an extra set of directions in my pocket at all times.
I was a mess!
My late night travels would take hours due to delays, unexpected transfers and train construction.It took me months before I truly mastered my way around the 3 and 4 train in Brooklyn.
The NYC trains may be the only place where you can “interact” with people from different backgrounds, races, genders, economic status for 30 mins or more. I mean I know NYC is a huge Melting pot, but I have noticed the segregation of the city.
Real interactions for more than a few minutes are rare. Don’t get me wrong you can travel all over the city and experience authentic cuisines, but you don’t have to truly interact. The subway system takes it to a whole new level. I don’t think I have ever been so “close” to stranger… And don’t get me started on rush hour. Traveling downtown to work everyday at 8:30 in the morning is the worse. People jam into the train cars and complete ignore the “personal space rule”.
Let’s just say for example, a train cart can accommodate 100 people comfortably; During rush hour that number can double to 200 on each cart. You kind of force yourself onto the car and hope you fit, when the automatic door closes.
If you are afraid of small spaces or germs maybe this system is not for you. Unfortunately, for an AmeriCorps member, public transportation is THE ONLY option. (thanks to my small living stipend)
While there are times I can’t stand it, I must admit the more I ride the subway, the more I love it. Traveling home after a long day of work can be calming. For a minimum of 45 mins, I get to enjoy “Joy-time “. Due to the lack of cell service and Internet, I am able to escape the world twice a day and really reflect. In the beginning the idea of losing my cell service twice a day was so frustrating, now I enjoy my time. I have never realized until this BIG move how obsessed I was with technology. I love the idea of having information at my fingertips . This love affair has made me into a crazy multitasker. I am constantly sharing my time with many thing at once which can be overwhelming.
It’s weird looking back at my first subway experiences and how far I have come. I am no longer the girl who has to keep an extra set of directions in my pocket, just in case I get lost. I am no longer the Midwestern who refuses to get in the subway because it’s “too packed”. I am no longer the girl who panics when my phone dies or terrified of being pick pocketed (let’s be honest, I’m not a likely target ) .
I think I am adjusting :)
Photo. ©JoyAlise.- My Social Cohesion