Rear Subway Window

A look out the back of the F train

View from the back of the Ftrain

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.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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