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[personal profile] redthroatedloon
When I go to work in the morning, I take the R train from the first stop in Brooklyn and change, a few stops later, for the N express. The N is usually fairly populated, sometimes full; this is, after all, the NYC subway at rush hour. I usually have to stand for the first couple of stops and then I can find a seat when a lot of people get off at Atlantic Ave./Pacific St., a hub for several train lines.

Today, I see there's a seat next to the window. I go over to it, and see there's a bundle of clothing there. It's not unusual for less mindful people to put their stuff on the seat, so I ask the woman seated next to it politely if it's hers. (Translation: If it is, take it off the seat, you bitch!). She says it isn't.

Well, I could just leave the clothing there and stand -- but I'm feeling obstinate, so I gingerly brush the clothing onto the floor. Much to my relief, there's nothing under it, and I sit. And notice that, under the seat perpendicular to mine, there's a grubby-looking cloth suitcase. I asked, and it doesn't belong to the woman sitting there, or to the woman sitting next to me. They seem unconcerned.

Ooookay.

Now, I'm a native New Yorker, and like everyone else, (a) I've learned to mind my own business to avoid going totally insane, what with street musicians and beggers and obnoxious phone callers and the like, and (b) I've been bombarded by ads on public transportation urging people to notify somebody if you come across an abandoned bag. So after a brief momoment of doubt, during which I picture the several hundred subway riders who will hate my guts if they stop the train because of me, I get off at the next stop, jog over to the middle car, and tell the conductor.

She motions to a guy wearing bright cotton clothing, a neat beard, and a tiny earring in one ear. A musician? No, the subway dispatcher. I show him the bag and the loose clothing; he looks at it for a second, pulls it from under the seat, thanks me, and takes it off the train. I'm not sure what happens on the platform after that, but I notice some of the people watching him, so my assumption is that he put the case down and called the cops to take it away.

I lost my seat, but I had a nice conversation with a young woman about how she once found a backpack on a train, and I had fun wondering how anybody can comfortably sit on a subway train, especially after what happened in London and other countries, knowing there's a strange satchel under your seat...

Date: 2006-03-24 08:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] saffronhouse.livejournal.com
Aren't those moments odd? The disruption of the ordinary and the possibility of something unimaginable. Like you may be winning the lottery - except in some horrible reverse. The odds are about the same (or so I always think).

Hurrah for the triumph of the mundane for you! And happy birthday on top of that. Many happy returns.

Date: 2006-03-24 10:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redthroatedloon.livejournal.com
Yes, you've got it exactly! When something like this happens, you almost want to pretend you didn't see it, because you just want your day to proceed as it normally does, rather than being interrupted by something that could range from merely inconvenient to absolutely disastrous.

(Oh, and thanks for the birthday wish!)

Date: 2006-03-24 09:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] barkley.livejournal.com
I've never seen an untended bag, but I've always wondered about this very situation. Because I would think that most people would just assume it's someone else's and thus, it's easy for an unattended bag to be ignored out of laziness or ignorance.

Date: 2006-03-24 11:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redthroatedloon.livejournal.com
True. A couple of years ago, my mother was in Penn Station on her way home from Manhattan, and she saw a bag sitting in the middle of the main lobby of the LIRR area. She watched it for a while, and nobody seemed to be claiming it, so when she saw a police officer she went and told him. She said that he asked her where she saw it, and suddenly about 10 officers appeared and approached the area. The bag was gone, of course, and my mother started to apologize, but the officer told her firmly that she had done exactly the right thing. The thing that most astounded her, she said, was how suddenly all those officers showed up in response.

Date: 2006-03-24 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
yikes, a morning adventure. and happy b-day to you! *hug*

ps. i was on a subway once when some woman set off some tear gas for no apparent reason. we all ran like hell. meep.

Date: 2006-03-24 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] redthroatedloon.livejournal.com
Omigawd! I hope nobody was hurt in the rush....

Date: 2006-03-25 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jenlev.livejournal.com
it was strangly quiet. everyone else just looked at each other and *left* at a fast walk. i think we were all so boggled that she had done it to begin with that we had no words. just feet moving fast. meep.

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