On Our Eternal Wish for Good D-Train Karma


We leave work and walk the long blocks from Madison to Sixth Avenue. We hurry down the stairs into the station, where we mindlessly extract our card from our wallet and slide it through the reader. In the distance we can sense the deep, subterranean rumble of what is surely an empty uptown D-train approaching the station.

Our heart quickens. “God,” we pray as the electronic reader makes us “swipe again” at the turnstile before allowing us to pass through, “let us make this train. Let us this one time have good D-train karma and not have to wait twenty minutes on the brown-tiled subway platform as rows and rows of tired, angry souls heading to uptown Manhattan and the Bronx pile up around us, so that we will not be forced onto a crowded train on which there will be pushing and shoving and the dispensing of what we have learned is the lowest insult in the world (or at least in this world), which is to call someone a cock-sucking faggot.”

We can now hear the train as it roars into the station. Still praying, we start to run down the awkwardly inclined ramp, ever deeper into the bowels of the ungainly monster that is the 34th Street subway station (or for those who like malls: “Herald Square”). We approach the final set of stairs and our spirits sink; already there are one or two people at the top, which means that the train will have already opened its doors, and we are not in reach.

But we press on and maneuver through a group of lumbering tourists in order to reach the top of the steps. At last we see the actual train, which like a winded animal is apparently (blissfully) resting for a few glorious seconds, its doors open and willing to receive us. Giddy at the prospect of deliverance, we fly down the stairs, only to be confronted with a straggling, oblivious passenger from an F-train, who causes us to alter our path just slightly to avoid running him down.

Though minor, it is a costly deviation: we arrive at the train just in time to hear the annoying, double-toned “ding-dong” and the clamp of the shutting doors. We caress the smooth metal shell of the train as it lurches into motion; we note the screech of turning wheels and the empty expanse of the platform in front of us. But if our fate is never to catch an empty D-train and to always ride the crowded one, we now accept this with less impatience than resignation; once again, it seems, God has betrayed us and we feel relieved to refute His Existence.

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