Worst time using public transportation
My parents weren’t overly concerned with safety before I headed to New York for four months. Having once resided on the East Coast for years, they know much of the Midwestern fear of the Big Apple is a lot of bunk. Yet they issued one warning before I packed my bags:
“Don’t ride the subway past midnight,” My dad warned, pointing his finger (again) at my face.
So when I became stuck on a Lower East Side platform with two friends, three angry NYPD officers and a behind-schedule J train at 2 a.m. one October night, they weren’t the first people I turned to to laugh about the incident.
Our group had just spent three hours at a seedy, secret underground comedy show. The comics hadn’t even headed home on their bikes yet when one of my friends felt the beginnings of an allergic reaction. We concluded the night and walked to the nearest station while our friend dragged behind, dramatically coughing and excessively wheezing. We’re still not sure what she was supposedly reacting to.
We heard the train arrive as we hurried down the stairs, a blessing considering trains run about every 25 minutes past 11:30. Our dying friend skipped swiping her MetroCard and jumped the turnstile instead to the platform. Just as we all entered the newly-arrived subway, an officer from behind ordered us to step out of the car. I cursed my decision to go out that night.
“Why didn’t you pay for your ride?” The officer asked, looking through thin glasses.
“I’m having a reaction,” My friend croaked.
Apparently he’d heard this excuse before, and proceeded to sit us down on the benches while I watched the subway speed off. The next 45 minutes consisted of searching for Benadryl, debates over whether to call an ambulance and my dozing off. I could feel the karmic forces pointing and laughing at me while repeating my parent’s one rule. We were let go around 3:45 a.m. Our friend’s allergies seemed to magically clear up once she received a metro citation.
The following weekend, I called an Uber instead.
The tails of my tan peacoat flowed on the putrid underground subway wind trail behind me as I stepped off the train in Manhattan, NY. My church group, including my own mother, and I were on our way to see The Little Chapel that Stood. Earlier that morning, we watched my sister dance on stage at Times Square for a liturgical performance, which is why we traveled all the way to the East Coast from South Dakota in the first place.
As my right foot followed my left out of the train, there was indecisive chatter in the air, arising from our group. Only a few were outside the train as they were waiting for a decision to be made about whether we should get out here or at a few stops later, or if we were indefinitely lost. That was when the metal door slammed shut – my coattails stuck between them.
My small nine-year-old frame couldn’t keep up with the subway as it picked up speed and I heard my mother’s alveoli burst in in her lungs from the compressive screams that shook the subway station from inside the train.
“SOMEBODY HELP HER,” Barb Witzke screamed.
I began to run as fast as I could to keep up with the train as a friend’s dad from our group took after me and helped me to rip the coat off. We were able to discard of the coat before the train went through a tunnel, which would have left me on the side of a concrete wall like fresh roadkill.
Needless to say this was the worst transportation experience thus far in my 23 years of life, not to mention the time I was trapped in a dropping haunted hotel elevator with a bunch of strangers in California. Nowadays, you’ll see me walking from place to place whenever possible to avoid death by new-age transportation mechanisms.
“Ma’am are you aware you are partaking in a criminal activity, by theft?” asked the officer. Yes, I thought. I was fully aware that I was doing something illegal, small, but illegal.
My worst time using public transportation resulted with a documented warning on my personal record. A couple of friends and I were going out for the night and decided to take the light rail. We knew that we needed to buy tickets, especially because Police Officers would sit on and lurk around asking for passengers tickets. Two out of six of us bought tickets and plopped our butts onto the blue, torn-up seats. Glancing back we all noticed four Officers. Great, I thought. Once all four Officers slithered our way all four that did not buy tickets got quiet.
“Are you girls aware the theft fine results in a $200 citation?” All honesty, we knew exactly what we were doing and what we law we were breaking.
“Oh, really?” replied one of my friends.
Innocence was purely directed toward the Officers as they took our ID’s and collected no other illegal information from our records. They gave us a theft warning, which was placed on our personal records, on the bright side no fine was given. The Officers were very kind to give us a warning and tell us about the fine that would be the result if a “next time” ever occurred.
“Paying $1.75 is a small price to pay in order to avoid a $200 fine,” another Officer reassured.