Jessica Gross

Scary Subway Times

In people watching on September 23, 2008 at 11:32 am

I descended onto the subway platform just as a train was leaving this morning, so I knew I had enough time to sit on a bench. One had two people separated by three seats, so I sat in the middle. (NEVER sit next to someone if you don’t have to. Everyone in New York has personal space issues.) I put my lunch bag on the seat to my right, in between me and another woman. As soon as I set it down, the lady erupted like a crazy jack-in-the box: “Get that off me! Get that off me, you moron! Get that off me!”

Note that the bag was not on her, but next to her — a foot away, really. I thought pointing this out was unwise, so I lifted the bag from the seat and put it on the floor. As I sat there, my thoughts went through this progression:

1. That was surprising.
2. I hope she doesn’t talk to me again.
3. Was I supposed to respond? Should I respond now?
4. No, don’t respond. Do not respond.
5. Should I move?
6. No! You’re brave.
7. Right?
8. Yes. Right.
9. Wait…what actually happened? She called me a moron. Maybe I actually was — did I put the bag on her lap?
10. Had she claimed that seat? Is there some subway rule I don’t know about?
11. I’m confused.

I finally decided she had a mental problem. But questions remained: what do you do when a strange lady shrieks at you in the subway? And does a lunch bag have a right to an otherwise empty seat?

  1. Maybe the “lady” that shreiked was actually the seat.

  2. you FINALLY decided she had a mental problem? šŸ™‚ anyway, i love #6. i’m going to tell myself that all the time as i wind myself through the subways now.

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