Train Pain

The subway train tries to keep you informed. And this is a good thing, but this wasn’t always the case. Years ago if the train stopped or was moving slowly, you had to just assume their was a rat parade on the tracks and you had to wait until it passed before you could continue moving.

There was no information, no knowledge shared.

But the subway system in New York City has been better the last couple years about informing riders about what the hell is going on. It does this through 4 or so canned messages that are either delivered by their automated system or in a muffled lazy barely audible manner by the conductor.

These messages have become quite routine and it is not uncommon to hear all of them during one morning commute.

My favorite is when the train stops in between stations and you hear over the loud speaker:

We are delayed because of train traffic ahead.

Well yes train traffic ahead would make more sense than train traffic behind us wouldn’t it? But train traffic? What train traffic? You have a finite number of trains in the subway. Every single choo choo has a conductor on it and should be accounted for. It’s not like people can drive their own train onto the track.

Hello folks, yea, it looks like we got about 20 or 30 trains that we have never seen before on the tracks this morning. I know we are on the A, C, E line, but in front of us we have a P train, a 12 train, and a train that appears to just have a picture of a monkey on it. So we’ll go ahead and get you moving just about as soon we figure out what the hell is going on.

Train traffic. The whole idea of the train is that we all travel on the same effen translocational vessel, upon the same track, so we don’t HAVE to worry about traffic.

That would be like driving along the highway and seeing a sign that said:

This next 5 miles is only open for you Steve.

I apparently have no concept of how trains work, because I thought it was some sort of a scheduled type of thing. I thought you had to take a certain amount of time, and that all conductors knew how long that trip should be and they could arrive at each station at a certain time.

But no, instead we hear announcements like:

To maintain even spacing between trains, this train is being held in the station.

That means that somebody is driving their train too fast. Why are you in such a hurry? Drive at the same damn speed and we won’t have this issue. You realize what happens when you get to the end of the track, right? You have to just turn around and come back.

But again that is the opposite of:

We are currently waiting for connecting passengers on an arriving train.

Of course when you hear that announcement you are always waiting in the train, trying to get somewhere on time because you are already late. But it seems whenever you ARE on that connecting train, the train across the platform is doing its damndest to see if it can get out of the station before you get on it.

But all this presumes you have actually gotten on a train to begin with. It seems like the MTA has pretty much given up telling you when and where specifically they will be doing construction and have adopted the… “this is just going to suck” approach, as seen by their latest signage.

Deciphering when and where the trains may or may not stop on a particularly construction heavy weekend has not gotten easier with the new signage used. There are now more colors, numbers, and pages to sort through.

Instead of all that crazy verbiage, I’d almost rather just show up to the train station and see a donkey with a saddle and a sign that said “good luck.”

But sometimes you do make it on to the train and you don’t like the car you are on, but of course:

Ladies and Gentleman, it is against the law to pass between cars while the train is motion.

Excuse me, if I get onto a train and there is a “human” clipping their nails sitting next to somebody who is loudly describing the specifics of his manhood, there is a very good chance I am going to move between cars while the train is in motion.

Or another reason the train stops, according to the announcement is:

Excuse me ladies and gentlemen we are stopped because we have a red signal. We’ll be moving as soon as we can.

Ohhh OK a red signal. Considering we can’t see the signals we just have to go ahead and trust you now don’t we.

It’s like if you stopped your car at a green light and while everybody was busy beeping at you, you stepped out of your car and said:

Excuse me friends, the reason I am not currently driving is that my gas pedal fell off. As soon as I manage to put it back on I will drive away.


But sometimes there are situations that are beyond anybody’s control, like when there is a sick passenger on the train. You usually know this because the conductor says:

We have a sick passenger on the train.

And then you know, oh ok, well, something we could not foresee has happened, and now we are aware of it. But last week, when I was on a train with a sick passenger the conductor actually said:

If there is a doctor on the train please report to the second car we have a sick passenger.

And the response from the cramped car full of people was as if the conductor had asked everybody to get off the train, jump on to the tracks, and push the train to New Jersey.

It’s a sick passenger people! Somebody who was probably sick before they got on the train. It’s not like the conductor was walking through the train handing out arsenic gum to willing individuals.

Because if you are not nice, I can imagine the next announcement I will hear over the loudspeaker will be something like:

We are delayed because the passengers in car 7 are all a bunch of a-holes.

In which case I’ll just ride that donkey to work instead.