Archive for November 20th, 2013


More notes from the subways

sardinesPeople said that the L is crazy crowded at rush hours, but I decided I ought to give it a shot anyway.

Came home that way once, and the L was fine, but the 3 4 5* from Union Square to Grand Central was a line of sardine cans. :)

Thought I’d give it another try, the other way, but the 3 4 5 downtown from Grand Central was so tightly packed that I didn’t try to push myself in, but just turned around and went and found the good old S instead. So I didn’t get to find out what the L was like at the time.

(Today, on the way home, Track 1 of the S was down (“Out of Customer Service” as the loudspeaker amusingly said), and so the S itself was pretty packed, but not as bad as the 3 4 5 had been.)

What trains experience

Speaking of the loudspeakers, on one of the occasions that I took the 7 rather than the S just for fun, the train just sat there for awhile, and eventually the loudspeaker said (more than once) that we were delayed due to a train at the 5th Avenue station (Bryant Park, you remember) that was experiencing door problems.

And I thought, the poor train.

And I also thought, just what does a train experience, when it is having door problems?

In the Mountains and Rivers Sutra, ol’ Dogen writes (roughly)

Dragons see water as a palace or a pavilion. Some beings see water as the seven treasures or a wish-granting jewel. Some beings see water as a forest or a wall. Some see it as the Dharma nature of pure liberation, the true human body, or as the form of body and essence of mind. Human beings see water as water. Water is seen as dead or alive depending on causes and conditions. Thus the views of all beings are not the same.

Perhaps a train’s experience of door problems is entirely different from ours.

The mysteries of time

It is odd how, regardless of just when I leave work, I so often have a choice between standing on the 5:57, or getting very early to the 6:15.

Then there is the 5:53, which is an extremely express train, but which, the schedule says, stops at Croton-Harmon only to pick up passengers, not to drop them off. I asked a ticket agent once if that meant that people really couldn’t get off, and she said nah, you can get off, just be prepared to do it very fast, because the train won’t stop for long.

On the other hand I asked a conductor of the 5:53 once if the train stopped at Croton-Harmon, and he (likely knowing that I really meant “can I take this train to there?”) just said (without going into any detail), no, I should get the 5:57 instead.


The Jehovah’s Witnesses have a regular presence in a couple of places along my subway route.

Having done their whole curriculum for nonbelievers on my front porch back in the day, I don’t stop to talk to them or take their literature, but I do sort of smile, if mostly to myself.

Today I noticed the signs at the top of two adjacent cardboard literature racks that they had set up at their larger installation.

The signs said:

What does the Bible really teach?

LIES that make God seem unloveable.

and I said to myself “well, can’t really argue with that!”.

Oooh I am so snarky. :)

Don’t hold

Speaking of signs, there are these signs on the inside of the subway train doors saying “Do not hold doors”.

clampTurns out, they mean it!

If you, like me, are one of those people who is used to occasionally putting out a hand to stop an elevator door from closing so that someone running towards it will have time to get in, you should consider not doing that with subway train doors.

’cause owch.

If they sense that there is an entire body in the way, they will squeeze for a second and then open again (and every other set of doors on the train will also open, just to make sure that everyone knows that some so-and-so is blocking a door and making everyone wait).

But if there’s just a mere hand or wrist there? They will clomp down on it and squeeze quite firmly until (for instance) a couple of long-suffering New Yorkers, one on either side of the door, sort of roll their eyes and curl their fingers around the jaws of the door and yank it open, both freeing the trapped and somewhat bruised hand or wrist, and allowing the hurrying person who was the object of the casual gesture to actually enter the car.

The bruises are about gone now…

* Update: all references to the “3 4 5” in the above should of course have been to the “4 5 6”. The 3 doesn’t even go through Grand Central ffs!