Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ah, those only in New York moments

For all my poetic spouting about food yesterday, come dinner all I wanted was Wendy's. It's those damn red wig commercials. After work I swung by their location on 23rd St, or what used to be their location. The windows were covered by taped up cardboard and no one was home. I'd missed my chance by a few weeks it appeared.

Disappointed but not defeated, I stopped by my apartment and decided to walk to McDonalds instead. Fast food, dammit!, my tummy and thighs said. Cellulite be damned! To feel semi-healthy, I walked to their location in the 80s. I ordered a 6-piece nugget and fries meal, but somehow through a combination of cash register and payment errors I walked out with a 10 piece meal and a large fries. Ugh.

I decided to take an alternate route home for a change of pace -- I walked down 2nd Ave instead of 3rd. Though it is bad practice (and very dangerous, ladies) I always walk with my headphones on and music playing. Walking is my escape time. Since it was so cold out the foot traffic was kind of light. I had been walking in a small pack but broke off from them to get down to 2nd Ave from 3rd.

About halfway down the block, I started to get that creepy I'm-being-followed-WTF feeling. Someone is pretty much always following you in New York but not like this. It had a menacing vibe to it. My street-smarts turned on and I checked my periphery for any other pedestrians but none were around. The block was pretty much devoid of traffic too -- not a good sign.

I shut my MP3 player off so I could hear the sound from behind -- it only sounded like person. I crossed the street mid-block but to my horror my stalker followed. I noticed the man following me wasn't being quiet...he was singing. "Barracuda" to be exact. What the hell? Had he just come from a karaoke bar? Was he reliving a round of Guitar Hero III?

Last resort time -- my fingers clutched the pepper spray I always carry in my pocket and took off the cap. I felt a tap on my shoulder (real or imagined? Who knows?) I stopped, wheeled around and came face to face with the man, who had definitely been close enough to grab me from behind. I stood up on my heels and tried to make myself look as intimidating as possible. I don't know why, but I growled at him and told him to back the fuck off.

It worked, because he shrunk back and asked me if I could spare some of my food. Good lord. I realized he was disturbed and possibly homeless. Deciding he wasn't much of a physical threat, I reached into my bag (still clutching the pepper spray with my other hand since you never know) and gave him most of my fries. Then I growled at him to stay the hell away from me. He ran away in response.

My heart pounding, I finally made it 2nd Ave, which had plenty of people on it. I walked as quickly as I could for a few blocks before determining I was safe. The whole thing was unreal. I had been so lost in my music. I made it out of a bad situation unharmed, thank God. Lesson learned.

Nothing nearly as exciting this morning, but I did have another OINY (only in New York) moment. I was running late and pleasantly surprised when a 6 train was waiting for me in the station. I trotted into a car, where we waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, an MTA worker came by our car and asked if anyone had seen a bag without an owner laying around. A woman on the platform said she had, and the worker plucked it from the car behind us. Next thing we know the conductor announced that the train had to emptied. Thanks to the "If you see something, say something" campaign policy, the train had to be emptied and searched by the police. People moaned and groaned but I have to say I wasn't too upset. I'd much rather be safe than sorry.

The only part that made me mad was that a woman who got off the train last rudely leaned against me while we waited for the train to leave. Seriously, she couldn't move over an inch? She had to be in the exact same spot as me? Stubbornly, I refused to move. I'd gotten there first. Fuck it.

The empty train departed the station a couple of minutes later and another 6 arrived right behind it. NYC commuters know exactly where the doors will open at the stations even when the floors aren't marked, so everyone was crowded around the door positions. But the new 6 train stopped a little off the mark. The woman who had been leaning against me just had to be first on and pushed to the right so she could be first on. She forced her way so harshly that she knocked over a man, who was reading a newspaper and not paying attention. He was thrown foward and hit his head against the car. She then pushed a woman, who in turn knocked over her young child. The kid started crying. Poor thing. For all the commotion, she still wasn't first on the car. She was second.

And yet somehow, we all made it to our final destinations. Amazing.

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