It was a packed subway train that hurtled me into the city for my first day at work today, with more people crammed into one carriage of the enormous silver train than you’d likely see on the terraces of Chester City FC on the average Saturday. Nobody talks to anybody, obviously. New York’s no different to London in that respect. But even with the Bat For Lashes album blasting out over my iPod, it was pretty obvious that there was some kind of commotion going on a few doors down from my strap-hanging position.
A high pitched jabber, punctuated by occasional shrieks, attracted the turning heads of the commuters around me, each of us looking for the source of the strangely unidentifiable noise. With each stop that went by, the sound got closer, louder and more irate, until the train came to a halt in a tunnel a few stops from my destination.
And there she was. A short Chinese woman, well dressed in her beige rain jacket, with a polka dotted bag containing a paperback book and a wooden handled umbrella clutched in her hand. A picture of normality, you might think. If it wasn’t for the stream of invective issuing forth from her never-closing mouth, that is.
I’m not sure what it was she was saying, although with the occasional angry spluttering of words such as ‘yellow’ and ‘racist’, I suspect somebody had done something to annoy her. And a 25 minute barrage of Chinese and English abuse must have seemed the best way to deal with it. Whatever the cause, she successfully cleared a two metre radius around her with her relentless tirade…no mean feat in such a burstingly full carriage.
As the woman finally departed the train, ranting still as she stepped down onto the platform, the remaining passengers breathed a heavy sigh of relief. And – shock, horror – they even began laughing and sharing war stories with strangers around them, each with their own tale to tell about their encounters with craziness.
Something tells me the New York subway will provide an endless source of stories for this blog. Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.