It had been one of those infinitely long days where I did nothing but stare blank-faced at my computer screen, time crawling painfully until I conceded that I’d be doing everyone a favor by ducking out of the office early. The buzzing of electricity and humanity started getting to me from the moment I set foot inside the subway station. After boarding my first train, I brought the book in my hand closer to my face and let my hair fall down over one eye. I never should have cut those fucking bangs last year. I’m drawn out of my haircut remorse by the crackling loudspeaker announcing our arrival at 6th Avenue.
Stepping off with the rest of the after-work crowd, we slowly herded ourselves down two flights of stairs to the L. Everyone is visibly agitated, deadfaced while they shuffle up and down the line, looking for enough free space to stand comfortably apart from their neighbor.
Tycho’s ambient album blasts through the uncomfortable white earbuds that came standard with my last iPod, but I can still hear every aggravating verbal exchange around me. These headphones are so crap.
I turn the volume up, still unable to lose myself in the book inches from my face. The words swim across the page; I can’t focus long enough to transition into zoning out. All the elbowing, bag-checks and shuffling out of the way for passengers making their way to the opposite end of the track has me on edge.
The crowd is five people deep across the entire length of the platform, Brooklyn-bound, and I’m ready to snap — on someone, on anyone. A woman at the front of the pack leans forward, past the bumpy yellow marking the “danger zone” closest to the oncoming train and I envision myself kicking her ankle, sending her to an untimely death. It’s an idle fantasy I would never indulge in, but imagining shit like this is one of the few things that helps me talk myself through the borderline panic attacks the city seems to bring out in me. Today I am feeling too defeated by “The Man” — my shitty nine-to-five, my pitiful income — and the vision of her head getting lopped off as a train pulls into the station too fast brings only the slightest of smiles to my face.