It was a busy week, and honestly I'm sure there were hundreds of quotable comments from St. Patrick's Day. But quite unfortunately, I didn't have my notebook on me during that little city-wide celebration, so this story is going to have to do.
On the N train, stuck at Queensboro Plaza
“This is a Astoria-Ditmars bound N local train. The next stop is 39th Avenue,” says the pre-recorded woman’s voice I hear everyday. Then the man’s voice comes through the speaker and says, “Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” Ding Dong.
No Movement from the train, or the doors for that matter. About a minute passes.
“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” Sigh. Nothing happens. Not even a few minutes pass before we hear this mind numbing phrase SIX more times.
“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” Ding-Ding Dong. Ding Dong. Then we passengers got a little remix for the next several seconds. Keep in mind; we’ve now been waiting for over 10 minutes to leave the station.
“Stan-St-Stan-S-S-St-Stand clear, S St-Stand clear of the closing, Stand, Stand Stand, St-st-Stand clear of the closing door, please.” Ding Dong. Ding-Ding-Ding Dong.
Enough! Did they have the pre-recorded man on repeat for some kind of cruel Povlov-like experiment! Gah this was horrible!
Somewhere between the second ding and the first dong a woman standing near me said through gritted teeth, “They. Are. Trying. To. Make. Us. CRAZY! Crazz-zzy!”
The doors finally begin to close. I start to laugh because I think I might actually be going crazy.
Then the unthinkable happens. Some nincompoop who had obviously not been listening to the same symphony of ding-dongs our N train had been enjoying for the last several minutes decides he must make this train and sticks his arm in the door, prompting them to whoosh open.
“Boo!!” I shout. “Oh my gosh!” the woman across from me screams. “What the hell, man!” the guy beside me says. I don’t even think Nincompoop knew we were talking about him. And we weren’t upset this man had delayed the train - we were already late! No, all our angry minds were focused the impending statement that had to be repeated to shut the doors… again.
“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” Ding Dong. There was an audible groan.
And then I had two realizations. First, I had participated in Thursday’s Things New Yorker’s Say and second, Nincompoop might possibly have been some daemon sent from ding-dongy hell.
What I hear 4 times a day, at minimum.
What the train sounded like that night - minus the cute kids.