I thought I had the NYC subway system figured out by now.
I’ve been a regular–if not daily–MTA underground customer for five years. If my destination is too far to walk or my load too heavy or awkward, I take the subway. Taxis (expensive) and buses (slow) can’t compare for getting from point A to point B on time, especially when surface traffic is ridiculous.
Most of my subway travel is within the borough of Manhattan, where I know intimately the stops and stations of my ‘hood lines, the 1 and the 2, as well as the 4, 5, 6, B, D, N, R, and S. I am no longer confused by uptown vs. downtown, local vs. express. From station to station, I know whether get on the back of the train or the front of the train so that when I get off, the exit turnstiles are only steps away. It’s automatic now–mere muscle memory–to take the right train and get off at the right stop. At least, in Manhattan.
But what the hell is wrong with me when I try to go to Brooklyn? Like last night, when I set off for a session at Brooklyn Boulders, my climbing gym.
It’s a pretty simple 40-minute trip–on paper. Start out on the 1 (a local), change to the 2 (express), get off at Atlantic in Brooklyn, get on the R southbound and exit one stop later at Union Street.
I’ve done it before, about 15 times. I’ve screwed up more than my fair share of those “simple” trips. But last night was the topper.
It started out just fine: I took the 1 , changed to the 2, and crossed into Brooklyn. Then things went haywire. Without going into detail as to the series of trains I took and why, let’s just say that I effed it up in almost every way possible. Wrong train, wrong station, wrong direction–over and over again. Every bad decision led to another. Every stab at a “fix” was just another screwup.
By the time I had it figured out, I had been floundering around under Brooklyn for two hours. But there was still time left to climb, the gym was just four short stops away, and a train would be along any moment.
That’s when I dug into my bag for my iPhone, to resume a game of spider solitaire. Uh-oh. No phone. In a panic, I pulled out my harness, then my chalk bag, shoes, water bottle, granola bar, lip balm and a handful of change. The platform looked like a yard sale, and I looked like a crazy lady. I could feel the scorn in the furtive glances from the waiting commuters. They didn’t want to get too close.
Still no phone, I was near tears. As the train that would drop me at Union Street pulled in, all I could think was “Idiot! Your iPhone is on it’s way to Coney Island!”
Beaten, I boarded a Manhattan-bound express instead. I pouted, berating myself for letting an iPhone card game distract me enough to trigger a classic transit folly.
I moped only until I crossed back over into into Manhattan. That’s when I found my iPhone, stuck under a panel in the bottom of my bag. I played solitaire the rest of the way home.