August 22, 2008

As the uptown 3 train was pulling out of the 14th Street station this evening I witnessed the following exchange.

Foreign Couple Looking (Intelligently) at a Map: Jabber jabber jabber jabber jabber.
Old Guy Who Looks Like Santa Down on His Luck: Where are you trying to go?
Foreign Couple: We are wanting to go to Times Square.
Old Guy: Oh, you just go to 34th Street and get off, it’s right there.
Foreign Couple: Thank you so very.
Old Guy: Here we are, 34th Street—it’s my stop too. Here’s where you get out.

(The couple stands up to follow him as he leaves the train.)

Random Nearby Lady: This is not your stop. Times Square is at the 42nd Street stop, which is next.
Foreign Couple (sitting back down): Thank you so very.

(The couple sits back down until 42nd Street, at which point they leave the subway, as do I.)

I mean, okay, it’s kind of weird to live in New York and not know that Times Square is at 42nd Street. I mean, there’s a musical about it. But if you live in New York and don’t know that Times Square is at 42nd Street, don’t you think there are tasks to which you’re better suited than giving people directions?

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6 Responses to As the uptown 3 train was pulling out of the 14th Street station

  1. Jeff says:

    Maybe if the guy were better at giving directions, he wouldn’t be so down on his luck.

  2. Perhaps 34th street tends to have fewer witnesses.

    There are more motivations for giving directions than to be helpful.

  3. Esther says:

    Um, yeah, what Caliban said. I confess my mind also went to the dark side….

    Or perhaps downtrodden Santa heard, “Jabber, jabber, Empire State Building, jabber, jabber”?

  4. Rhi says:

    Maybe he was a serial killer, and his plan to lure the foreigners to NOT-Times Square, and KEEL THEM DED WIF A NIFE. And then stuff them in a large freezer to snack on for several months.

  5. Andy says:

    That reminds me of the time I was walking through Greenwich Village and a girl stopped me and said, “Umm, excuse me…how do I get to the river from here?” And I said, “Which river?” She looked concerned and said, “There’s more than one?” So I said, “Yes, there’s the East River and the Hudson. The Hudson is in front of you and the East River is way, way, way behind you.” And she just kind of said, “Hmm…” and kept walking.

    My favorite “explanation of map to foreign couple” memory was back when they were doing track work, and the 1 was running on the express track and the 2 was making all local stops. No, it made no sense to me, either.

  6. Jeff: You are probably right, but if he’s Santa then there are other possibilities to consider.

    Caliban: I love you.

    Esther: I think I have to write a song called “Jabber, Jabber, Empire State Building.”

    Rhi: Well, that’s certainly an efficient plan. He wouldn’t have to buy groceries for months.

    Andy: My favorite is when they’re like, “This 2 train is now an N train” instead of “This is a 2 train running on the N line.” Like, what has happened to transform it into an N train? What are the inherent properties of 2-trainness that have changed?


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