So I often ride the subway here in this city of Nueva York. The subway is a fascinating dimension all on its own. It's a separate world that contains its own specific rules and laws of physics, even. It's true. But that is not what I'm going to be talking about today, although I could, for hours.
No, today I will be describing a frequent daydream I have while riding the subway. Oftentimes, there are delays where the train is at a standstill for an undetermineable amount of time. Meaning you're in mid-transit and the train stops for whatever reason, sometimes apparent, sometimes not. In my experience it has lasted anywhere from 5 seconds to probably an hour, maybe? Something I often do when I ride the train is imagine some kind of catastrophe or accident or some event causing us to stop, maybe for several hours or even days, and we're stuck in the underground, and maybe even underwater.
I then take a mental inventory of what exactly I have in my bag. In this town, you (or at least I do) have to be prepared while you're out. So for me, this means that I have a bottle of water, some headache pills, reading material, paper towels, lotion, and probably some kind of food item. It varies though, from day to day. So i think about what I have and how I could use my supplies to help my fellow subway-riders if we were stuck for hours.
If I happen to have some food I would probably save that for the kids. I probably wouldn't tell anyone I had it though, at least right away, because, depending on how dire the circumstances become, someone might attack me for it.
Paper towels would be very valuable.
We would ration the water and use it sparingly.
What kind of reading material do I have? Is it boring? Is it a Reader's Digest? If so, I could read the Laughter, the Best Medicine section and help calm people down with a little comic relief.
Do I have a church magazine in my bag? I could use it to distract the wailing cries of fear and despair and be a spiritually uplifting source for everyone.
Sometimes, if I happened to have stopped beforehand at a market for food items and I'm on the train, I think, 'Today would be a very good day for a catastrophe, or a long delay. I have food that would last us for hours.'
And then I start thinking about my physical abilities. If there's suddenly a hole blasted in the tunnel, and we're in the river, can i swim out? Will my legs get me to the top? How far down are we? Do i grab a kid and try to swim up together? Do I write a note to my husband and put it in my pocket? "Sean, the last thing I did before I drowned was give a granola bar to an old lady. Please put that in my epitaph. Love, Jen." These are the things I think about.
This could really happen, people. Lest you think I'm paranoid might I remind/inform you of a situation that happened months ago where riders in a tram that shuttles people from Roosevelt Island into Manhattan were stuck for hours. In the AIR. And the tram started SWINGING. Ok, I just checked & it was only two hours. But still. I might have a small freak out if that happened. But not really because I would be the one to help everyone with my bag of supplies. YOU would be the one having the freak out until I started reading charming anecdotes from Life In These United States. And then we'd all laugh at this situation and how we should submit our story to the Digest and split the $100.