nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic


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Yes, yes, he’s right!

At last, someone who agrees with me that the alarmed doors on subway stations are pointless. I have complained here before about the noise the doors make when I have to use them to get my buggy on to the platform and how I feel like a fare dodger for using them. Turns out other people hate them too! In an opinion piece in today’s New York Times, which is accompanied by a short 2 minute 26 second video, a writer called Ken Webb shows how awful these doors are. And he’s almost on my side when he talks about the volume of the alarm affecting babies being pushed through the doors – at 85 decibels, this seems pretty loud to me. He even shows someone pushing a buggy through, but doesn’t show what I experience every time, which is the physical origami I perform as I try to hold the door open and wheel the damn thing through without the door slamming in my face and the alarm deafening me. Yes! He’s right. Someone at the MTA should take note of this man.

 

 

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Subway salon

I don’t use the subway much, but have started to work out the best place to stand on the platform, the right time of day to be there with a buggy and the best place to sit in the carriage. I do this much aplomb today. I am sitting opposite J, who is wide awake. He and I exchange smiles then I read, he stares. Then the guy opposite me says, ‘oh my Lord, I thought that woman sat next to me (next to J) left without her baby!’ Realising the baby is mine, he looks noticeably relieved as I explain it is better for me to see him this way, than sat next to him. J is getting a lot of attention today. One woman catches his eye, he smiles coyly and to his right another woman goes out of her way to wave at him but he’s too busy with the first lady. We speed on down town and I hear a clipping noise. A man is standing nearby clipping his nails, getting the dirt out with the blade and snipping the rest. Yuck. We are out of range for the clippings but I am not the only one to look on in mild disgust. And towards the end of ride, two older ladies sit beside me and opposite J and proceed to play peekaboo with him the rest of the journey. He is in heaven, in his very own salon.


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Subway sermon

So I’m sitting on the subway reading the advertising and looking around and through the carriage door between the cars comes a man looking very confident, wearing a suit and looking a bit like a ticket inspector. He walks purposefully to the other end of the carriage and stops, pauses to look out of the window and then marches back down the carriage to alert us all to the dangers of sin. He proffers that we are all breathing therefore we can be saved. He is zealous in his assertions and starts to tell us (well, those not wearing headphones or looking down to avoid any eye contact) that there is a computer held by the Pentagon called Huck (sic?) and that it controls the weather (I kid you not), it determines when there are to be earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and hurricanes. He stays with us for two stops and then thanks us and moves on to the next carriage. He’s still there on the train when we get off, same act, same words. Impressive. Still, I think I prefer to the two man Mariachi band I experienced last time I went on the subway. Thankfully Boris seemed to get rid of all this entertainment from the tube in London. What’s next?


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The kindness of strangers

First time on the New York subway (that’s the underground or tube to my fellow Londoners). Taking my buggy (must learn to call it stroller here to avoid yet more confusion – we speak the same language apparently) down the endless steps, making sure to go the right direction (uptown or downtown), learning which are the fast trains, which stop everywhere – numbered lines go up and down, alpabetical lines go across. Boring but functional. The subway looks pretty unloved, it’s dingy but post Guiliani, it’s supposed to be safe and it’s pretty cheap at $2.25 flat fare. Getting a buggy through the turnstyles is challenging. I am told to swipe my Metrocard (Oystercard, but not as clever), turn the turnstyle manually and then pull the heavy metal gate to gain access. At which point an alarm invariably goes off and I look like a fare dodger. Marvellous. The stairs are way steeper than I’m used to, but so far I’ve been offered help most of the time, by men and women alike. I think they are mostly shocked and take pity on me, brave enough to do this on my own. I treat my final helper to a little British humour and say I’ll see him here same time next week. He responds by looking at me like I’m a crazy person and walks off quite quickly. Must work on my jokes.