The Insane Train

Last Friday, coming back from a job, I took the Number 6 train home.

In all my years of riding the New York subway, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a wilder, crazier train.

It was like a circus car.

Now it’s rush hour which runs say, between 4:30 and 7:00 p.m. plus it’s a Friday night.

I’m coming back from Brooklyn off the E, so I get on, or at least try to, at 51st and Lexington. From there it’s three short stops to my house.

For starters, there are so many people waiting on the platform…three deep…that it looks like Tokyo…not the safest, most comfortable feeling one can have becoming part of the throng.

I think, Susannah, you can get out and walk from here, which would have taken me a good hour to get home, but then, tell myself…you’ve been up since 4:30, pull your patience together by giving it a moment and you’ll be on your doorstep in no time.

Well, that moment turned into…three trains I couldn’t get on…last one being so crowded that I was literary pushed in by those waiting behind me.

As I splash into the car, I look down and there’s a middle-aged Spanish man sitting on a box to the left of where I’ve landed…very cheerfully I may add…smiling at me as I gaze down at his bald spot picking up the garish glare.

Without much ado I say, “What are you doin down there?” He just grins as if he’s a dwarf planning his next move. Okay…we get passed that…when suddenly the train stops at 59th Street where a tiny woman with a folding shopping cart comes flying in my direction. Launched would be a more accurate term. My theory is, she was so afraid she wouldn’t get on that she flung herself like a Frisbee onto the car. Now we have her and the man, on his Scott Paper Towel box, on either side of me along with her cart that’s digging into my right thigh.

No, there was no point in telling her since there was no other place for it to go. Think sardines with shopping bags and knapsacks suiting up for the weekend.

Cut to…68th Street…Hunter College stop where normally there’s a big turnover…just not tonight. A herd stampedes in pushing me with my nose to the opposite wall. I bid farewell to Sneezy on his box, while I stare a bit too intently at an ad for a zit cream posted on a grimy placard.

Just when you think…one more stop and I’m home…a man of color who would not accept he couldn’t get on, gets caught in the door…as the train is pulling out of the station I might add. I mean he’s half in and half out. I couldn’t quite believe it, but saw it happening in the opposing reflection.

It was wild.

How come the bell didn’t go off. Since when can the door close if someone is hanging in-between it? So now, not only do we have a scene from a Tim Burton/John Waters film, but I’m on an unsafe train.

Hey Mayor Bloomberg, could you get off the golf course and do something please?

Deciding not to waste such a theatrical moment, the guy starts rapping about being abused, used, bemused (I wondered if he even knew what it meant…sorry), fused, not choosed was my personal favorite, at the top of his lungs.

Mr. Scott Towel, who all this time hasn’t said a word, pipes up with, “Ah, he sing nice.”


I’m thinking only about one thing,..decapitation. If our conductor hits a low tunnel or pillar or wall…well…ba-bye Tupac all over again.

Thank God when the train finally stopped at 77th, he was still in one piece. I had to back out as if I were in an upside-down conga line. When finally making it back onto the platform, I steadied myself against the railing.

I was shook.

It was truly the train ride from hell.

I limped up the stairs and thought…Susannah you need something…anything…

whiskey, Valium…Camille…a driver from now on…but…as the good, resilient, tough New Yorker that I am…I gathered my senses going up the block to Farinella to have a slice of my favorite zucchini and mushroom pizza.

I actually had two.

When the little Italian lesbian cashier with boobs the size of coconuts said to me, “Zoe, how yua do-day Signora?”

I said, “Bene…bene…I am just fine…

just so glad to be home.”


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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10 Responses to The Insane Train

  1. Amongst all that crazy I have to admit I did appreciate the guy breaking out into a rap song…impressive considering I would be crying like a baby and screaming my head off if I were stuck between the doors. I bet you slept like a husband that night!


  2. katecrimmins says:

    You are such a trooper. I don’t like public transportation but that’s because where I live it wouldn’t get me anywhere I need to go. Pizza is as good as a drink or chocolate sometimes.


  3. MJ says:

    Wonderfully funny piece, Susannah! Your surreal ride made Claudia Shear’s phrase, “blown sideways through life”, pop into my head. I think her book by that title is now out of print, but it still resonates after all these years.


  4. Pizza sounds wonderful! Was once in a train that I was pushed into by one of those men with the batons. My feet didn’t hit the ground until I was on the train for 45 minutes. It was fun! Trains are interesting places, aren’t they? I can’t believe the guy was half in/half out…. Thanks for this post!


    • Me either…it was a harrowing ride. The thing about the train is it’s fast…I know people that refuse to ride them. They’ll only take the bus which turtles its way to the point of idiocy. You want to get out and push them from behind.


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