The Columbia Spectator, the student paper showcasing the finest young minds in journalism, has a unique payment policy for writers: The Ivy League rag pays by cliche.
At least that’s one might deduce after reading Zahra Khimji’s “A Peek Into the Life of a Commuter” story. It follows the sad, lonely life of a student named Amanda James who commutes on the 1 train from Columbia’s campus up in Morningside Heights all the way down to Union Square–a distance of about 100 blocks.
Let us count the tired cheapshots Khimji takes at subway commuting:
* “A young face squeezes onto a packed 1 train among a crowd of gray-haired commuters in suits.” (C’mon, when was the last time you saw a crowd of ‘gray-haired commuters in suits’ on the subway? What is, this, DC?)
* “As the train arrives at 42nd Street, crowds of people make their way in opposite directions.” (Yup, lot of people in Times Square at rush hour.)
* “…the underground maze that Times Square hides beneath it.” (Uh, OK.)
* “She steps onto the N train, dodging brusque subway riders…”
* “James squeezes her way through large crowds of people and carefully but swiftly swings through the exit.”
Khimji also mentions how it takes James an hour to arrive home at Union Square. Does it really take that long? I remember taking the 4/5 from 125th to Union Square after softball on Randalls–granted, not during rush hour–and that thing took like 15 minutes–granted, we’d had a few Bud cans during the game. Still, I seriously doubt that ride could last an hour; heck, I used to take the 1/9 from the West Village to 242nd Street, and that only took 45 minutes.
For her part, student Amanda James isn’t a big fan of the subway either.
“There are angry people on the subway all the time,” she tells Khimji. “It’s very annoying. I don’t like the vibe I get from so many people.”