Today, on the way home, I got another dose of crazy while using public transit. While I was standing on the platform, waiting for my train to show up, I saw a coworker, so we started talking about some crazy stuff that had happened during the day. When the train finally arrived, we snagged some open seats and talked until we got to my stop, Union Square.
This is where things took a turn for the bizarre. As the train pulled into the station and started to slow, I stood up and crossed to the side where the doors would open. I gripped the rail with my right hand, the one that runs from the floor to the ceiling at the end of the row of seats, and I held my hat in my left hand. There was a guy standing in front of me. He was a black man, and well dressed. When the train stopped, the doors didn’t open right away. He looked over his shoulder at me. Then he shifted a bit and turned half towards me and mumbled something. I didn’t quite catch it so I just ignored him and put my hat on, so my hands would be free for the climb up the stairs from the platform into the station.
When the doors opened and we started to get off the train he said something to me again, but I still couldn’t hear it over the noise, so I leaned a little closer to him and said, “Pardon?”
“You need to back the fuck up off me, bro.”
Uhhh. Well, we were walking with the group of people all rushing for the stairs, so I didn’t give it too much mind. It’s not like a person can expect to have a lot of free space in that situation.
When we turned the corner of the rail and started up the stairs, the guy looked back and when he saw me, he jumped a bit, like he was surprised, and then bolted up the stairs, taking them three at a time. When he hit the top, he took off at a dead run through the station.
The woman next to me gave me a questioning look. I shrugged and said, “Crazy fucker. He thought I was following him or standing too close to him or something.” She just smiled and shook her head, as if she’d seen it before herself. I suppose she had. New York City seems to be half full of crazy people at any given time.
I understand that people have a desire for personal space, and that desire is magnified when living in a congested city, constantly surrounded by people, but this guy’s reaction was unreasonable given the circumstances. I wonder what exactly set him off this time? I was dressed in business casual, chatting with another person in business casual, and I didn’t act oddly when I positioned myself to exit the train at a stop, so it’s not realistic for him to have thought I was a potential robber. It’s also not reasonable to expect to have no one behind you when exiting a train at a station, or when climbing the stairs to the platform.
In any case, this just reinforces the fact that when you’re in New York City you have to stay aware of the people around you. You never know who might snap, or when, or why.