I take the F train, the shittiest of trains in all of New York. If the city ever decides to condemn the F route, we will partly rejoice, but mostly bitch and demand at least two alternatives because let’s face it, the F is a lifeline, a major artery in this bloody city.
It’s a typical Monday. Almost everyone stands just behind the yellow line, their heads poking out to see the tunnel, waiting for a glimpse of the train’s arrival. I do exactly the same and hope—as no doubt everyone else does—that we get one of the newer trains, and one that is not too crowded. We stand. We wait. We hope. When it comes to the subway, New Yorkers can be dreamers.
The B-train arrives on the opposite track. I turn and stare at it, thinking to myself I can actually take the B. The B goes to Bryant too. But like someone who is set in their ways, and is in no particular rush today, I just stare as people file out, people push in, and the closing doors close. I take the F-train.
I’m not entirely sure what got me so attached to the F. It could be that when I first moved here, everything was about the F. My first two weeks I stayed at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. The F was his train into the city. It became my train into the city. When my broker started showing me apartments in Manhattan, we took the F from her office. On the day I moved into Greenwich Village, I checked for my nearest subway stop, West 4th. Lo and behold. The F stops there. So I got used to it. I got used to rolling my eyes at it. And though I have taken other trains on days when I need to hurry or when my errands require the 6 or the A or the E, I very frequently rely on the F.
As they do every Monday, the people on the F-train are reading books, are on their iPads, are on their smartphones, are talking. I’m squeezed in beside a tall man in a business suit, and a somewhat portly lady who may actually be younger than she looks. I don’t need to grab a hold of anything for balance. These two will do a great job of keeping me upright.
While I wouldn’t change being a Greenwich Village girl for anything in the world (okay, maybe I’d trade it for a large beautifully furnished loft in Soho), on these fabulous trips on the F, I do wish that Bryant Park was walking distance from my apartment.
But then I think of all the fun I’d miss.
I’d miss getting to the platform and seeing the train has just pulled out. I’d miss the silent ‘Oh man’ I say in my head every time I realize we’re getting one of the older trains. I’d miss glancing into every single subway car that passes by, checking for interesting individuals or just eye-candy. I’d miss watching people on the train, seeing them smile awkwardly then look away if any eye contact is made. I’d miss the African American lady who sings opera and choir music—extremely well—by the exit on 40th and 6th Avenue. And I’d miss the lady beside her who hands out religious newspapers that I never accept.
The cops by the staircase, the Sabrett guy, the Halal guy; these everyday faces I know but don’t know, if I ever stopped taking the F, I’d miss them all. As strange as it is, as nonsensical, as borderline dysfunctional, I’ve gotten used to them and I’ve come to rely on them just as much as I’ve come to rely on the F-train.