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Tuesday, January 7, 2003
By Paul Ford
A look out the back of the F train
An announcement comes over the F train PA, crackling. There is a man on the train in front of us - the G train, which has reached the end of its journey, for it terminates at Smith and 9th St - and this man will not get off the train. The announcer sounds frustrated.
The TA police will handle the job, I guess, and will have been called. They must arrive at the station, must ascend the stairs and enter the train. So we will wait, about 300 or 400 of us total, for 15 minutes or so.
We're going towards Brooklyn, not into Manhattan, so we're on Brooklyn time, it's the end of the day, and no one is nervous or upset, just a bit annoyed. Still, 400 people, that's 6000 person-minutes total, 100 hours of opening the door a few minutes earlier, putting on a CD, taking off your jacket and shirt, and lounging, 100 hours of checking email, pecking your wife on the cheek, talking to the kids, or having the dog leap up and put its paws on your hips 15 minutes sooner.
Some kids are laughing, a man with long greasy hair is rocking a little, and a woman in her 70s is reading a book about racism. For a moment I have a fantasy of narratives as glowing line, and the trains as braided cords of story where everyone comes together. But that's too cerebral for this moment, too much grad school application-prep and not enough reality; I'm sleepy, everyone else is tired, too, and I only want to look out the rear window the train and wait for my own getting-home moment, going down the escalators, turning the key on an empty apartment, unpacking the laptop, reading a bit, then going out for a walk to find something to make into dinner before settling into more work.