Posted tagged ‘Subway’

Getting Around

June 5, 2008

I just got back from a week in San Francisco, a city that had eluded me in my travels despite my affinity for extremely liberal ocean side cities. I went with my grandma, a lively lady who proudly pronounces her 71 years to anyone who asks and seems to get even more ornery with age. The whole time we were there, Grandma was on the hunt for a street car souvenir of some sort to put next to the miniature taxi cab she got in New York.

Since a small portion of every day was spent seeking out the perfect plastic replica, I had a lot of time to ponder how the street car came to symbolize San Francisco and the big yellow taxi is a clear reference to NYC, especially when neither of these modes are actually the ones most commonly used by locals.

The slow moving streetcar costs $5 a ride and is teeming with oversized Nikons and neon fanny packs. New York City taxis are used by locals and tourists alike but most New Yorkers head underground to make their daily commutes.

For me, subways mean mundane everyday tasks from my two-stop commute to the Rolling Stone offices to the 30 minute ride to go out in The Village. Taxis allude to either special occasions–where my stilettos won’t survive the trek to the 6 train–or the end of a late night adventure, where the subway stations would be too difficult to maneuver or just plain dangerous for a girl to stumble into alone.

The average New Yorker wastes most of his yearly income just to pay the rent so doling out an extra $15 a trip just to get downtown seems unnecessary. That’s money that could go to more mouse traps or cans of Raid, which I personally like to use to line the entrance to my apartment in a vain attempt to keep little creatures out. How can you not love this city!?

But when friends and relatives come to visit, they bring with them a terror of the subway system which I still can’t quite figure out. Is it the rodents or the bums that keeps them on street level? Because we have those above ground too. Is it the crowds? You can’t tell me it is the crowds and then continuously drag me to Times Square, the most obnoxiously crowded area on the island. I can’t figure out the origins of this fear so I can also associate taxis with visitors.

Most guests offer to pay for their taxi rides so I usually don’t mind but I do wish I could figure out the source of their aversion. How can they be so opposed to a mode of transportation I use on a daily basis? Any ideas?

When my best friend from high school came up to visit me a few years ago, we got all dressed up to go out and since it was a straight shot on a nearby subway line, I made the mistake of taking her underground to get to our destination. In a subway scene I have yet to see duplicated, we witnessed a couple get in a knock down drag out fight, a half naked homeless man, and a drunk teenager vomiting over the platform. And that was all after Adrienne and I had to conquer endless flights of stairs in our pointy pumps. Adrienne is my only friend who has not come back to visit me and she is the last visitor I have taken on the subway.

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