It was the 6:33 to Southeast last night, a packed train. Somewhere between North White Plains and Valhalla, I was making my way toward the proper door to exit at Hawthorne.
As I entered a new car, I came upon an upset woman, and three or four others around her tried to help. The woman, about 40, sort of attractive with what the mysoginistically inclined might call a few miles on her, was trying to get to Croton Harmon to hop the Amtrak to Albany. She’d mistakenly gotten on the Harlem line at 125th.
Those around her scrambled for solutions as they attempted to console her; one that wasn’t very well-received involved her taking the train back to Grand Central and starting anew. Ultimately, it was decided she should exit at Hawthorne, hop a cab to Tarrytown, and venture on up to Croton Harmon.
She nodded, but was still distraught.
I piped in the fact that I’d once cabbed it from Tarrytown to Hawthorne, and it only set me back $15 or so. She stared at me blankly.
Inevitably, the tears came.
“How could I be so STUPID?” she wondered, clutching a plastic bag filled with groceries. “And my husband even works for Metro-North!”
There may have been an opportunity for a joke there, but it seemed inappropriate.
“It happens to all of us,” came the mindless bromides from the peanut gallery. “It could’ve happened to anyone. These trains are confusing.”
Maybe we lived in the city too long, but something seemed a bit off in our head. These situations, rare as they may be, always seemed to end with some poor rube coughing up a twenty to help the damsel in distress pay for the cab.
Hawthorne approached. A woman drew a map off the three train lines on an envelope, and circled the Hudson line. I asked her if she wanted help getting to the cab stand. She said yes. Another Samaritan, a heavy-set, red-haired woman, said she too was getting off in Hawthorne and could help.
I rode the elevator with the woman and descended the stairs. I tried to start up a conversation but she didn’t say a word.
A light snow fell. I ventured into the cab shack where Hawthorne’s tattooed ne’er do wells congregate. An older man was taking orders.
“There’s a woman from my train who got on the wrong train,” I said. “She’s trying to get to Croton Harmon and needs a cab to Tarrytown. She’s upset. Can you help her?”
The man nodded.
“Whatzit gonna run her, about 15 bucks?” I asked.
The man checked with the dispatcher in the back. $16.
The older man stepped outside and got into his cab.
I went over to the lost woman and told her the guy would take her to Tarrytown.
Suddenly, the red-haired Samaritan chugged over.
“My husband says he’ll take you to Tarrytown!” she gushed. “We have a dog in the back, hope you don’t mind.”
“Sure,” the woman said, offering the first smile I’d yet seen from her as she ambled off to the warm, waiting car.