by Brittany Geragotelis
Whenever anyone's asked me whether NYC is dangerous, I've always responded that I feel safe here and that I know the areas of the city to stay away from. In fact, I feel safer in NY than I do in California or several other big cities.
But there are things about the city that have made me uneasy on certain occasions. It's not surprising that most of my bad experiences have happened while on the subway. Cramped spaces, lots of people (sometimes strange) and an enclosed area that you're stuck on until the conductors choose to let you out. So, yeah....things can get a little scary.
Just a few months ago, I was heading back to work after going to a doctors appointment in the middle of the day, when we stopped at a station to let people on and off. As soon as the doors opened though, people started running off and shouting, "There's a gun on the train!" Scared to get off, but also scared to stay on, I froze and watched as more than a dozen police officers came down into the station and then went to the back of the train to investigate.
But things like that don't happen all that often (at least that I've seen). What I learned yesterday though, is that hot weather + limited subway service=violence.
NYC in the summer can be rough. The heat often gets up into the 90s and being that we all take public transportation, it means that for most of our commute, we don't have air conditioning. And you know how grumpy people can get when they're hot and sweaty. Add to that, while the subway fares keep going up, service seems to keep going down. Now, the combination of the two can be deadly.
How you ask?
Well, when I was headed home yesterday, I had to wait about 15 minutes for a train to come. By the time it arrived, there was a huge crowd on the platform, as well as an even bigger crowd on the train. I was able to squeeze my way on there, but then, every stop after, more and more people forced their way on. And then started the shoving and the lack of personal space. And then people started to get pissed off.
People who were being pushed by others trying to "fit" inside, started to yell at the pushers and then the pushers began to yell back and before you know it, people are all screaming at each other and threatening to fight. And suddenly what's supposed to be a quiet ride home after a long day at work has turned into a riot.
Ok, maybe not a full-on riot, but it's enough to make a tiny girl like me uncomfortable. So, what is there to do? In a city like NY, it's not like I can choose to drive to work every day...that's just not practical. And if I waited until there was a train that wasn't crowded, I'd never get anywhere.
Of course, what would be nice is if the MTA realized that it's not just annoying when they cut down on service...it's actually making our trips around town less safe. In the meantime, I might just brave the heat and rely on my feet to get me around for now.