This Express Train Will Now Be Making All Local Stops
As a native of New York City the center of my social, political and creative philosophy revolves around the subway system. In particular the IRT 7th Avenue Line and the IND 8th Avenue Line. Like all New Yorkers I want to always be on the express train. No one wants to be on the local. To a lesser extent, all New Yorkers want to ride the express elevator in high rise buildings. Express connotes fast speed. Local connotes slow speed. Every New Yorker gets a psychological uplift riding on the express train watching with contempt all the losers standing on the local platform of the stations being bypassed. Conversely those standing on the local look forlorn as they helplessly watch the express trains on the local platform race by on the center tracks. Until the late 90s the IRT Express trains reached peak speed of 45 MPH/72 KM H, while the IND Express reached peak speed of 60 MPH/100 KM H.
Riding on the Express train gives New Yorkers the sense that they're moving ahead in life. They were ahead of the pack. Riding the Local gives New Yorkers the sense that they're being left behind. They're losers. Riding the Express gave the sensation of success. Riding the Local caused the opposite sentiment. As what happens regularly, the Express trains are diverted on to the Local track making all stops. Exclamations of anger and disgust are verbally heard. Litanies of profanity are uttered. How dare the Transit Authority retard our advance in life! Sometimes the anger is premature as the train may be diverted to the Local but still make run Express. This gives the Express passengers more sadistic satisfaction. This is because the humiliation of those waiting for the Local is deeper. Those on the Local platform believe that their train is coming at last, only to be disabused of the notion when the motorman blows the horn as a warning to tell those standing on the platform to stand back. The loud horn sounds mocking. The faces of those standing on the Local platform sink releasing that they've been double crossed yet again. Those passengers standing and staring out the front window of the train grin sadistically at the suckers getting the shaft.
The Local passengers never get a break. For each time that the Express suddenly turns Local, the Local turns express. This is wretched for the Local passengers. Sometimes there's track work and passengers will have to bypass their station to the next Express station, where they must ascend the stairs to the upper level, walk across and then descend the steps on the other side waiting for the Local to run in the opposite direction. Sometimes the next Express station might be miles from their stop. They can lose up to 20 minutes of their precious time. The worst ever for Local passengers is that no announcement is made by neither the conductor nor the motorman that the train will be running Express. The most skillful will know that something is amiss either way as the train switches tracks. But oftentimes the train will remain on the Local track. Passengers automatically make their way to the doors before the train enters the station. The initial shock gives way to consternation when the train fails to stop.
This past week I turned 45. Starting in my 30s I estimated my lifespan by subway stops. Naturally inclined to the 7th Avenue Express I assumed that I would either make it to 72nd Street or if I had longevity all the way up to 96th Street. I hoped that I would wouldn't have to get off the Local stops of 50th, 66th, 79th or 86th Streets. When I turned 34, I marked it as Penn Station. At 42, I was at Times Square and at the crossroads of my life. But at 45 I realize that more likely than not, more than half of my life is over. If I'm lucky, then I've reached the halfway mark. But make no mistake, I'm more than halfway on my subway line.
I don't want to be on the Express anymore. I drove my train like the infamous cowboy motorman on the IRT in the 70s and 80s. I was too excited and keen to hurry up and get to my final stop. There was also the realization that I wasn't on the 7th Avenue Express and was instead on the Lexington Avenue Express. I went from 14th to 42nd Street in 2 minutes flat. 23rd, 28th, and 33rd Streets all went by in a blur.
I want the train to slow down. So much to the point that I've even crossed over to the BMT Broadway Local, the slowest trains in the city. I want to take the Local up to 57th street and then slowly walk across 59th Street to Columbus Circle before boarding the IRT Uptown Local. I just hope that my train doesn't break down for good between stations. It would be terrible if I expired between 59th, 66th, 72nd, 79th, 86th and 96 Streets. At the end of the day I need to make it at least to 72nd Street.
I'm done with the speed. This Express train will now be making all Local stops.
18 February 2017
Moncton, NB Canada
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