With today being St. Patrick’s Day all seasoned New York evening commuters understand the shenanigans entailed with such. We smile and tolerate the over friendly, over inebriated, but otherwise harmless over-celebrants who cross out paths. Sometimes we may have to cuss out those who are not so friendly drunks. On occasion we may snap a picture of the drooling drunk out cold. We get it. I get it. But no one deserved to get this…
Rush hour coming home on the subway. It’s a little more crowded than usual, and that is saying something, because it’s Saint Patrick’s Day and remnants of celebrants are loudly finding their way home. I am sharing what is typically considered a four person seat, with another woman and a guy who has chosen to sit akimbo, aka “manspreading” so the seat is only holding three people. The largest space is between the manspreader and I, still it is not a lot a space. Only a child or a someone really slim might be comfortable there.
As I am reading my book and listening to my iPod, I notice a shadow crosses my page. I look up and a man stands there, using hand gestures that he wants to sit. I am already up against the sidebar of the seat nearest the door; there is no place for me to move. I look at the space, I look at the manspreader, I look at this guy who clearly cannot fit in that spot, shrug and go back to my book. A moment later I am suddenly squeezed further into the sidebar, he reeked of alcohol and clearly needed the seat as the man has decided he is going to sit in that space, whether he can actually fit or not. Emphasis is fully on the or not in this case as the manspreader lets out an expletive and readjusts the angle of his spreading by some minuscule amount, but does not get up and neither do I. I do not know how the woman on the other side of the manspeader was faring, but this guy could not possibly have been comfortable so squashed in the space, with his arms overlaying ours, totally invading what little sense of personal space possible in such a setting. Knowing my commute, the odds were that I would be on the train long after he left, so I was all set to stand, well sit, my ground when Manspreader started yelling.
“Oh hell no! You have to get up off of me!” Manspreader exclaimed and pushed the guy’s arm off. I quickly looked at my arm. This guys was sweating so much, that in the less than two minutes in which he sat there, his sweat was dripping unto us.
I had on a jacket so I didn’t feel anything, but I could see it. I pulled a tissue out of my bag and wiped my arm. Yup, there was sweat on the tissue and it was not mine. It was only slightly better than Manspreader who had a clear stain on his shirt sleeve that was going to dry there.
Okay, it is one thing when on the subway and your arm is raised grabbing a pole and everyone can see the sweat stains through your shirt. It’s not the prettiest thing, but it’s par the oft times odious course of mass transit in summer weather. Still there is an implicit code of keep your sweat to yourself. This guy clearly did not get the memo. Sweaty Guy glanced at Manspreader, his lips pressed together as if to keep from speaking, then he looked at me, his body did a sort of jerk move. I don’t know why, but I stood.
“Don’t give up your seat to this sweating pig! Why the hell would you squeeze your ass into a spot you know you can’t fit putting your dripping sweat, directly upon complete strangers? That’s fucking disgusting!” Manspreader was pissed! Sweaty guy would not respond and that just ticked Manspreader off more as he continued berating the man.
Now here’s a subway fact: I don’t care how packed as a sardine can a subway car may be, when someone starts yelling the way Manspreader was yelling out Sweaty Guy, it’s a Christmas Miracle how space suddenly opens up around you. I was now standing off to the side, more in front of Manspreader than Sweaty Guy, as the train pulled into a station with a sharp jerk. I saw the Sweaty Guy’s face and knew.
Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! Noooooo!
Everything in my body said “MOVE!” I grabbed Manspreader by the front of his shirt, yanking him out of his seat while trying to shove backwards through the understandably upset crowd.
And there he blows!
I suddenly had no trouble making space as Sweaty Guy started tossing a couple of factories’ worth of cookies. While I just barely saved Manspreader; regrettably the poor woman who had sat on the other side of Manspreader wasn’t so lucky. The momentum of my pulling Manspreader up caused the two of them to lean into each other’s directions. By the time registered what was happening, she could not move out of the way fast enough as he slide sideways on the seat into her. She started screaming and those of us closest were backing away from the both of them. One would have thought a murder scene was commencing the way people reacted, running out of the line of fire.
Those by the door closest to Sweaty Guy started running off the train itself as the doors opened, plowing into those trying to get on. Some brave souls in the further corners of the subway car away from Sweaty Guy were going to stick it out and stayed where they were. Other passengers entering the car, seeing, and smelling, the mess then immediately exiting added to the chaos. Were it not so foul, especially for Sweaty Guy, all that missing was the accompaniment of “Yakety Sax“.
The subway car had to empty out once it became evident Sweaty Guy had purged from everywhere possible. I will spare you further details other than to say it was not pretty. Worse we were at a station without transfer points. That means nothing else was coming up that track until Sweaty Guy was taken care of. I’m still a good half hour away from home. What to do:
- Do I go back downtown to transfer to a train on another line, which would likely add another hour?
- Do I exit the train and take the bus uptown, which would likely add another hour?
- Do I take a cab?
- Do I wait it out?
The poor woman who caught Sweaty Guy’s cookies ran out of the station. Manspreader was standing at the door switching between berating Sweaty Guy or general bitching about the situation. Other passengers who were stuck were either debating their options or complaining about Sweaty Guy with each other or on their cell phones. Because that’s what people do when in such a situation.
Yes, it’s St. Paddy’s day and it’s all part and parcel of being a mass transit commuter. Still, on any day grown people allowing themselves to get that drunk, and thus that sick, to then get on the sometimes slightly less jostling than bumper cars, that is a ride on a NYC subway is a recipe for disaster guaranteed to generate a less than stellar moment in one’s life and be the cause of the following notification email…
n/b 2 and 3 trains are running with delays, due to a sick passenger at ——. Allow additional travel time.
…which I received while still standing on the platform waiting for Sweaty Guy to be attended.
Throughout this Sweaty Guy is lying on the floor in his own filth, dry heaving and sobbing.
I actually felt a little sorry for him. But only just a little. As my cousin is wont to say “You brought this on yourself!”
Yeah, I’m done waiting – it’s taxi time.