It has been a long time since I last rode the subway in my beloved New York City, and I suspect it will be even longer until I do so again. Not because I’m above the below-ground transportation, but rather because I’m not sure I’ll find any space. The latest reports suggest that the subway system has become a refuge for the homeless during the pandemic. Videos have surfaced of subway cars that look like the morning after a 4th grade birthday party sleepover where the host parents were overly bullish on their sleeping accommodations.
The city has done its best to disinfect the subways, but on the eve of pastel pants season, I can’t risk the stains that seep so insidiously from the subway bench into my thrice-worn cheens. And given the fatigued state of my legs from daily Peloton PR hunts, standing is out of the question. As such (and I never thought I’d say this), it looks like I’ll be taking Ubers whenever I head back to the big apple. And I hate people who take Ubers everywhere. They’re so entitled.
But you know what I won’t miss? The panhandlers. I was thinking about them the other day, as much as I try not to. The subway is the place where I get the most reading done, and there is nothing worse than when a panny sweeps through the sliding doors (illegally) to ask us all if we can spare some change (illegally). These guys are so brazen that I’ve even heard them fundraise during the MTA announcement that tells us “soliciting money in the subway is illegal.” In those moments, I almost admire their indifference. Almost.
Still, it wouldn’t be so bad if they left it at that. But they always seem to bring their Dunkin XXXL styrofoam coffee barrel, used on AMC’s Breaking Bad for the disposal of corpses, filled with the very pieces I use to mark my ball on the green. Why anyone would ever want so many ball markers is a mystery to me. At some point, you’re just adding unnecessary weight to your golf bag, forcing your poor caddie to ice his shoulders at the end of a very long day. But apparently some people actually use these markers to buy sandwiches too. At least, that’s what the collectors claim—they’re always trying to buy a sandwich. Uhm, carb alert? Try a salad for me one time?
They shake the markers in your face. Turns out, ball markers make quite a racket on tumble dry low. When I was in 5th grade, my culturally-conscious private school hired an African band to demonstrate their instruments. I still recall the rainstick and its peaceful, cascading shush. Conversely, the Dunkin cup of copper and nickel has a different effect—one of tearing your brain from the pages of Faulkner to politely-yet-adamantly pass on the crowdsource campaign unfolding two feet from your face. I never give to charity without filling out an 8283 Form.
As the world reemerges from its collective hiding, I call upon the powers of New York City to put a stop to these subway shakedowns, once and for all. After all this, the world deserves to ride the subway in peace and quiet.