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That’s A Signpost Up Ahead

May 19, 2009

You unlock this door with the key of your MetroCard. Beyond the stiles is another dimension: a dimension of screeching sounds, a dimension of abhorrent sight, a dimension of out-of-mind. You’re moving into a land of both neglect and egregious abuse, of slow-moving things and non-forward ideas. You’ve just crossed over into… the MTA Zone.


I am the last one to talk about strangeness when I become an active contributor to the process.

I storm my way into the 1 train and immediately lunge for the closest facsimile of a chair. It’s there, I know it is. I put the damn thing in my messenger bag this morning…yet when I got to the turnstile, my ticket to ride was gone.

What does that mean, my non New Yorker friends ask? It means that my precious piece of plastic…my unlimited MetroCard…was lost in the detritus of my bag. It also means, more importantly, that I had to purchase a pay-per-ride…the ghetto card. The card of Jersey commuters and shopping mall moms. Livid.

Back to the seat.

As I’m pulling out gym clothes (more for appearance than for use, let’s be clear), the Entertainment Weekly, the three books that I’ll have time to read on the lunch break that I never take, I see…nothing…no card…nothing resembling the card…nada. I decide to shove it all back in (the logic is clear, no?) so I can  pull it out and start all over again.

That’s where the STOMP session of this blog begins.

To my left, a woman has pulled out some Pringles to balance her soda imbibing. I frown and sigh. Deep breath. Frown and sigh. She counters with a long-long-short rhythm, as follows:

Chomp, chomps, sip. (Brief pause) Chomp, chomp, sip.

I sigh again..louder.

She get hungrier and louder.


The younger woman to my right will not be outdone. This is the age of American Idol. We’re all stars, people, and every text message counts (if you’re above ground on the train, that is)

She pulls out her emory board and gives us both a quick…ch-ch-ch-ch-ch….(looks at nails and smiles)…ch-ch-ch-ch ch (blows the nails away)

And, thus, an urban symphony is born:shatner_twilight_zone-719871

Chomp chomp slurp
Chomp chomp slurp

Free entertainment, you might think. Not for me, though. I paid $4 for that baby. Two MTA rides for nail snow and song.

For me, the Chadverb, I got off at 96th Street. For the rest of the passengers, it was only the beginning. They had just settled in for a ride into…the MTA Zone.

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