New York Breathes

The silver subway cars that move below the city transport millions of passengers a day. They read N, 7, L, Q, S, etc. The express cars zip by the local stops. Who expects all 468 stations to be visited by every single car? Surely not the fly by the seat of your hat New Yorkers. It truly never sleeps. It never stops. It goes up and down, up and down, left to right, right to left. Efficiency and intimacy of subway travel flirt as riders go to work, home, or play. At night, the subway cars are emptier and lonelier. They come less often. During rush hour, even when you’ve stepped inside a car filled to the brim, 10 more people find their way inside behind you. The car sways, you all lean. The train jolts, you all skip. The subway is famous. On TV, in movies, in dreams, in words, in paint, in gelatin silver. For the most part, the dingy decrepit portrayals are wrong. The cars have AC, they are clean aside from the random cups that rolls down the aisle, dripping the remains of someone’s last sip of coffee across the floor, or some scattered newspapers. It’s public. It’s cheap. It doesn’t discriminate. It bonds people. It has no boundaries, no car classes. Equality. Public transport is vital in making sure people remember they are part of a bigger community. Public transport doesn’t permit bubbles. Those bubbles pop the moment you step off the platform onto the train. You may carry plasma-thin shields in your earphones, or on your smart phones, but, you are still subject to seeing a local subway performer in your peripheral vision, to smelling the homeless man who’s had days or weeks since his last shower. Public transport is acceptance to being one in a billion. Subway riders are not islands. You are at the communal mercy of countless other souls’ behavior. Every trip you take with your fellow city dwellers puts you at liberty and risk of interacting and being part of their life. Of them being part of yo

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