The first time I rode on a train was when I moved to Queens during Memorial Day Weekend. Almost a month later, and I still have absolutely no idea what I am doing in a subway station.
Properly swiping my Metro Card is an absolute nightmare. What should be a very menial task is the first of many hurdles that I face twice every day. The card says, “Insert this way/This side facing you.”
When I insert my card in this manner, however, the gate remains locked and I am instructed to swipe again. Next thing I know, four disgruntled business women with ankle tattoos and spiky heels are breathing down my neck waiting for me to proceed through turnstile. This is worse than holding up the line at a buffet. You are fumbling around with the pasta spoon and with every scoop you only pick up three noodles. With every scoop, more and more people accumulate behind you. Your hand is shaking and sweaty, and the elbow macaroni is progressing from Marshall Faulk to Barry Sanders as far as elusiveness is concerned. By the time you have a meager portion on your plate, there are 35 people behind you, all of them grumbling 4-letter-words under their breath, ready to eat but dreading the return to their three children under the age of six that are jumping on top of their corner booth. Swiping my Metro Card is worse than that.
Once I get past the turnstile and start to actually wait for the train is when my mind starts reeling. Most of the time I know which train I am supposed to take, but never know when it’s actually coming to the station. For example, I ride the W to work and wait at a station where both the N and W stop in the morning. However, this morning there were at least four N trains that rolled through the station before any Ws did. I say “at least” because when I saw the N for the fourth time in a row, I decided to hop on and bite the proverbial bullet, walking an extra seven blocks to HQ. Last weekend, I gambled on a random train and lost big time. I hoped the train was heading for Manhattan, but I ended up in the heart of the Bronx. Countless times I have hopped on the wrong train or bus and ended up going in the opposite direction of my destination. The map of the subway system is harder to grasp than the German Enigma code in WWII.
Anyone that can look at that and know what is going on is smarter than Brock Osweiler. Yes, you read that right; they are smarter than the man who has made $41 million despite starting just 25 games. Unequivocally a genius.
Once on the train, I have no idea what the proper etiquette is. I know to give up my seat for the elderly, but what is the cutoff for elderly? One second you’re trying to do the right thing and the next you get dunked on by this old-timer.
People in New York City are a different breed. You never know when the 1964 Summer Olympics pommel horse gold medalist will be in the same train car as you.
Exiting the station is also an adventure. I have no concept of the cardinal directions in relation to myself, so I always play mental rock, paper, scissors to decide which stairs to ascend.
At this point, you are probably thinking something like Jake The Rake? That nickname is HORRIBLE. Also, you’re just an intern, which means you are inherently an idiot, and that’s why you can’t solve the extremely easy grid system of New York City.
To address the first statement, the nickname was bestowed upon me. I’m sorry that you don’t like the nickname that I was given, but you’ll have to take that up with the higher-ups. For the second statement that your internal dialogue presented, the short answer is yes, that is probably true. As a millennial, we have killed many things, including the traditional learning space. However, I am also fighting a very serious and very real case of (self-diagnosed) topographical disorientation. This means that I do not have the ability to form mental maps, but that can be discussed at a later date.