A pink taxi

A pink taxi

September 14, 2011

Guest Blog: A NY Subway Moment

We all know by now how New Yorkers can stick together in difficult times, but they are also known to like their private space and to mind their own business. Neighbors don't have dinner at each other's homes, and most of the time we keep to ourselves to avoid awkward situations with people.

We keep to ourselves mostly because we all know that New York has some of the most eccentric and odd people in the world: overly made up bag ladies, neighbors who have 10 cats, the men with tatoos all over their bodies, people with Turette's syndrom cursing on the streets, amongst many others. These people are part of our society, and even my children have learnt to accept them and not fear them.

So just the other day, I stepped on the 6 train going uptown, to pick up my youngest from school. It is an unspoken rule on the subway to mind your own business, not make physical or eye contact with anybody when possible, and let your mind go to your book or your day dreams. We all get off and on the subway trains, in such a hurry and usually never notice anybody around us. However this ride would be different... A few stops into the ride, 3 Rastafarian men, with djambe drums and little chairs step on to my train car. This happens often, where they perform for the riders and hope to make a few dollars.

I usually welcome this entertainment because they are often quite talented and the music is a pleasant break from the monotony.

"Good afternoon everybody" says one.
Of course, as true New Yorkers, nobody responds, averting their gaze.

"I said good afternoon everybody" he says again, this time louder.

Maybe 3 people mumble back "good afternoon".

"Some people need to learn their manners". He says, but not in a threatening way, more in a cool Rasta man tone. "All I get are 3 people to respond to me. Man!"

A few people giggle, I smile.

He then approaches an Asian-American woman, sitting gaze averted from him.

"Usually Asians have values and know about respect. But you've been too long in America"

"You don't know anything about me or Asians."

"Yes I do. And you have been in this country too long."

She rolls her eyes and looks away. So he starts singing, and of course it's catchy. I can't remember which Bob Marley song it is, but it was one of the happier ones.

And before I can do anything, Rasta Man number 1 throws a maraca at me, and tells me to shake it to the beat.

I look around me and everyone is smiling or laughing. I especially didn't want to get lectured by the Rasta man on my lack of "joie de vivre". And then, I thought of my boys who shake maracas in their silly music classes. For what? So that maybe one day they will be able to perform as I did on a subway car? The absurdity of it all made me comply. So there I was, shaking to the beat till the next train stop.


"And a special ovation for the maraca lady!" Everyone clapped and laughed, and I turned bright red, so embarassed was I of having performed on a NY subway car.

I guess there is a first for everything, right?


  1. Visiting NYC without experiencing the Metro is not counted.It is a choice between the yellow cab with the Indian driver chatting constantly on his phone,or the Metro system that is notorious from Law&Order TV series.The choice becomes more difficult at rush hour when the streets become clogged and the Metro becomes congested with people of all colors and creeds.
    NYC for me is a wonder city that I visited for the first time in 1975 and I was owed by the buildings,the streets,the people and the whaling noise of the police cars and the fire engines.If you are observant,each and every NewYorker is a character from a movie or a TV series,that's why it is the most popular city in the world for the movie industry.
    The story above is definitely a real NewYorker taking a tasteful crunch of the Big Apple's experience.

  2. As I sat in the office and read the blog out loud to my son sitting in the next room with a glass panel between us, I watched as his expression became more interested and then more serious and worried. After I laughed out loud as I imagined the author with her shy demeanor and pink face, my son let out a sigh of relief and said "thank God they didn't blow the train up"!!!! I guess we each interpret the circumstances of life in a different way.

  3. I never laughed out so hard from reading an entry in this blog. I could only imagine what the protagonist was going through, the emotions, and the body language. Hahaha!This would only happen to the protagonist and her sister. Do you remember what the saxophonist shouted to the protagonist in the Washington train station? What about what happened to the blogger on a bus in northhampton when a bum decided to charm her? LOL!

  4. In my three years of living in the city, cabs and the subway were my preferred means of getting around. And in that particular order. On one occasion, I decided to take the crosstown bus from the east side home. The bus was half full and I took an aisle seat next to an elderly lady. Minding my own business, I went on my blackberry and got busy with emails when all of a sudden I felt a presence to my left in the aisle. I heard a man clear his throat. What followed has left me so scarred I won't ever step foot on a city bus again.

    The monster SPAT on me. All over my hands, blackberry and a bit on my shoulder lay this stranger's loogie!!!!

    And this is precisely why there is no city like New York City... Let's hear it for NY.

  5. What a great blog! Good for you guest blogger for shaking them maracas! I love it!