My Metrocard is sans enough money for this morning’s subway ride into Manhattan.
I find this out in the worst possible way: by injuring my groin.
In my time traveling the subways of New York City, I have developed the dexterity and skill necessary to successfully swipe my MetroCard through the correct slot on the first try and to then proceed through the turnstile without breaking stride. My stats so far this month are like 19 out of 20, with the one failure being this morning when the turnstile does not budge at all when it meets my pelvis. The digital display reads “insufficient funds.”
It hurts and I grimace. Then I take a step backward, bumping into the person behind me, who is grumbling. People here get really hacked off whenever progress at the turnstiles comes to a halt, because they have places to be and goddamnit if anyone is going to get in their way. I know this because I am one of these people. I have no patience for these delays, unless of course it is me who is causing the delay, and then it is fine and I wonder why in the hell these people are in such a freaking hurry. I can feel their glares penetrating me, can almost hear them cursing me and maintaining that I must be a stupid tourist.
I mumble some apologies as I walk past the folks I have held up, and I make my way to one of the two MetroCard machines at the Flushing Avenue stop. A Hispanic man a couple decades my senior is attempting to get his card. I stand behind him for maybe 15 seconds, during which I become angry. Fifteen seconds is not a long time at all. It’s definitely better than the average amount of time I spend at the machine, but the thing is that when there is someone in front of you it is never fast enough.
The machine spits out his card and he moves to the side, allowing my ingress. He neglects to take his receipt but I don’t say anything to him about it. Not my business, not my problem. I need to get my card and get going. I think I hear a faint rumbling, which could be the M Train, and if I miss it I have to stand outside in the cold, snowy weather that is somehow occurring in mid-April because if god exists he hates us all.
There is an error reading my card, the machine says. Shit yeah I want to try again. Who puts their card in once, sees an error, and is like “Well f**k that; guess I’m not going to that meeting today!”
By the third try people have amassed behind me. Their frustration with me is palpable. My hands start to sweat first and then the brow follows suit. If the card isn’t properly read on the fourth try, my undercarriage will start to sop.
IT WORKS! But my momentary relief is shattered because that faint rumbling is definitely a Manhattan bound train of some ilk and I still have to key in my requests for a ticket.
The people behind me here just as well as I do. The dude directly behind me is chanting a mantra I’m all too familiar with: “Come on. Come on. Come on. Come on.”
I freak out and execute the public transportation equivalent of a restaurant panic order: I hit the quick ticket for one ride, meaning I will have to repeat this process again later in the day if I want to travel back to Brooklyn.
I grab my ticket and make a beeline for the turnstile. In my flustered state I screw up my swipe and further damage my monthly statistics (also my testicles). I swipe again and take the steps up to the platform two at a time. On my fourth stride I feel a rip near my crotchal region. I should probably not be wearing skinny jeans.
I make it just as the train’s doors close.
I watch it start to move away and wonder where I can stand to best avoid the anger of the people who were behind me, who may have made the train if not for my MetroCard machine ineptitude.
I am standing outside in the cold. It is quickly and uncomfortably penetrating the significant tear in my jeans. I’m going to be late.
Oh well. At least I don’t have to pay for car insurance.