House of cards

by sam on 08/8/2007

Sometimes it’s amazing to me that this city doesn’t just collapse in on itself. Packed like a sardine on the M7 bus this morning, due to the fact that about 8,000 extra people were trying to get on the bus at my stop alone thanks to the flooded subways, I remarked to someone that this city is like a giant house of cards – anything goes wrong and it’s like the entire place comes to a grinding halt. Of course, then I said that I still wouldn’t live anywhere else, and they all smiled and laughed and generally agreed with me.

So, my morning.

Woke up at 5:30am for no apparent reason (I realize now that it was probably due to the thunderstorm outside). Dozed until about 6:30, when I got up to go to the gym to meet my personal trainer, with whom I had a 7am appointment. Trekked 5 blocks through a torrential downpour to Reebok, worked out for an hour (even the over-air conditioned gym was a bit humid), and then went home. Noticed on the way home that there were about 100 people at my normal bus stop at 8am, which seemed a bit unusual.

Got ready for work, and then went to catch the bus at a little after 9. Again, there was an unusually large number of people at the stop, and someone explained that the subways weren’t running, or were only running on a very limited basis, so they were directing everyone to take the bus instead. Six buses went by, too crowded to even attempt to get on. Bus number 7 had a sign indicating that it was only going to 42nd street, so I thought this was my best bet. Squeezed myself on, although the guy behind me almost got his arm amputated by the closing bus doors. Make a few stops, people squeeze on an off the bus, and then…

Then we get to Columbus Circle, where every subway train that was running at all had decided to terminate (the elevation is lower the further downtown you go, so there was probably more flooding below 59th street). There are hundreds of people standing there, to the point where everyone at the front of the bus, and the driver, start laughing at the improbability of any one of the people actually getting on the bus. In the meantime, there are a few trapped poor souls who actually need to get off the bus at this point. So, the doors open to let them off, and before they even have a chance, the bus is rushed by crazed people, including one woman who forces her way on, pushing the rest of us into immovable objects like metal bars, and then tries to say that she’s trying to help the people getting off the bus by moving further back! Never mind that she was essentially the cork that stopped the entire flow of people moving.

At this point, I realize, of course, that none of these people are bus people, they’re all subway people, so none of them bother to read the front of the bus. So I helpfully start announcing that the bus is only going to 42nd street, and if people want to go further south, they should wait for a different bus. At which point this woman starts freaking out that she’s on the wrong bus and pushed her way back off.

People actually applauded me. The driver was laughing, and we all had a nice collective bonding experience over the sheer ineptitude of our fellow new yorkers.

Just another day in the big city…

By the way, it took me an hour to get the one mile from home to work.

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