Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Riding the NYC Subway

A few weeks ago, I boarded the train and noticed an empty stroller at one end of the car. A woman was sitting across the aisle from it, but the stroller did not seem to belong to her. I looked at it warily. This wasn't exactly a suspicious package, but it was suspicious nonetheless. Why would someone leave an empty stroller on the train? Did its owner get sick of it and ditch it on the train, deciding to carry the child instead? Was the woman seated nearby homeless? But why would a homeless person want a stroller?

Apparently I wasn't alone in my thinking because a few stops later, two men got on together. They walked to my end of the car, where there were plenty of seats, but then turned around and took seats toward the other end of the car.

I wondered whether or not I should tell someone. The NYC transit system is always broadcasting announcements about reporting suspicious packages in the subway. But if it turned out to be nothing, I knew the other riders would curse at me for messing up the rush-hour commute.

The other problem is that even if I'd decided to alert someone, I don't know how I would have gone about doing it quickly. There's the train operator who opens and closes the train doors -- I could have called out to this person when the train stopped at the next station. But the lack of call systems in the individual cars is worrisome. The trains on the 4/5/6 lines, which I occasionally use, do have intercoms. But if there's an incident where immediate action is necessary, it seems that riders on the older, crappier trains have their work cut out for them.

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