I rode the New York subway for the 1st time yesterday; the experience had the texture, the feel, of the London Tube, but it wasn’t. Local station platforms dangerously narrow, stairs steep & uncompromising. Working out how to change lines, navigating the ticket machines, an anxiety-laden process.
Conversations shouted across us, around us, pitch us straight into a drama of New York lives, already familiar from TV & Hollywood. Complaints about being disrespected drift into comparisons of tattoos; difficult to separate the real from the imagined.
Station attendants safe in their glass-fronted booths, wield the power to make or break your journey, dismiss attempts at conversation, disdainful at our clumsy familiarity with the coinage; but today this too ready characterization is confounded. The station attendant deep in conversation with an elderly woman, he also grey haired, her contemporary, possessing a sense of space & calmness, offering useful advice on interchanges, fares & exits.
Tuesday 30th August 2011