I had 14 minutes to get from the 6 train platform at 28th to my train at Grand Central, meaning I had time to spare.
Or not. The platform gradually filled up, more and more people shuffled to the edge to look for lights in the tunnel, and my anxiety level started to climb.
Then I had 5 minutes to get to my train, and hopefully get home in time to push cars around the family room with Little G before he went to bed.
People were downright antsy at this point. If it’s this long between cars, the trains are typically full, and you might not get on the next one.
A man who looked to be of Caribbean descent pulled an airplane bottle of clear liquor from his pocket, drained it in one gulp, and let the empty bottle slide to the ground like Michael depositing the smoking pistol on the restaurant floor in Godfather. It rolled until it stopped at a woman’s high-heel shoe. I shot him a dirty look. He shot it back.
An announcement came on the loudspeaker. “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a downtown train at Astor Place.”
Think about it for a moment. What good does a downtown train at Astor do you if you’re on 28th?
My train was leaving Grand Central in two minutes. I was toast. The next train was in a half-hour.
I exited the turnstile and went to the ticket window, where I asked for a refund (Hey, I had time to kill, and a point to make.)
“Sir, if the trains are working, there’s nothing I can do for you,” came her response.
I was going to point out that, if the trains were, in fact, working, I wouldn’t be asking for a refund. But she called me “Sir,” so I let it go.
I climbed to street level and started the slow walk to Grand Central in the cold, wet night. I called home and Little G made duck noises.
I thought I might take in a little Tartan Week action in Grand Central–pipers? whiskey?–but when I got there, the festival was closed for the night, and I felt like the kid in “Araby.”
With 15 minutes until departure, I figured I’d do some people-watching, an activity me and the Missus miss since moving out of the city. But I couldn’t find a seat that wasn’t next to a homeless person, so I bought my beer and boarded my train.
I scored an empty 1-3/4-seater, so the night wasn’t a total loss.