Please Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Filed under fun times on the subway, living in new york is neat, my uber-confrontational personality

I was riding into Manhattan from my apartment in Brooklyn one Saturday night at 10 p.m. not too long ago when a little Latina lady with frizzy red hair, a tiny brown tee, and 80s jeans stepped into my car and planted herself in the doorway, one foot in the train and one foot on the platform. The doors tried to close several times, but she kept pushing them open and yelling something back to some unseen person in the station. Finally, a very tall, very well-dressed, very clean-cut young black man said in a friendly, familiar tone, “Mami, please decide if you’re in or out. I have to get to work.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the woman shouted back, “FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?! I’M RIGHT HERE! I’M RIGHT HERE! SAY IT!”

At that moment, her son ran into the car with a scooter, which he must have had problems getting through the turnstile. The man kept his friendly tone and told her that he was just trying to keep things moving for everyone else, but the woman screamed over him, “WHAT’S YOUR POINT?! WHAT’S YOUR POINT?! I’M RIGHT HERE! IT’S A FREE COUNTRY!” The man kept on talking in a level tone, but I couldn’t hear him, because the woman kept shouting, “MY OTHER SON WILL FUCK YOU UP! MY OTHER SON WILL FUCK YOU UP! GET OFF AT 103RD STREET WITH ME! MY SON IS LOUIE, AND HE WILL TEAR YOUR ASS UP!”

The man was talking quietly, but he was evidently getting into the spirit and egging the woman on, because she got even angrier and yelled, “YOU CAN SUCK MY PUSSY!” At this point, I naturally had to uncontrollably laugh out loud and say, “Oh, my god!”, which prompted the entire train to turn and look at me. Except for the woman, of course, who screamed, “GET OFF AT 103RD STREET WITH ME, MY NIGGA! 103RD AND LEX, MY NIGGA!” Her young son finally got embarrassed by the display and patted her stomach, saying, “Mooo-ooom. Stop it.” The woman advanced on the black guy and said, “YOU EXPECT ME TO LEAVE MY 9-YEAR-OLD SON BEHIND?! MY OTHER SON LOUIE IS YOUR AGE! HE’S AS TALL AS YOU! HE WILL FUCK YOU UP!” Her son grabbed her arm to hold her back and half-smiled at how ridiculous she was acting.

A random white guy seated between the two of them suddenly clapped his hands several times very loudly and said, “You must calm down!” The woman yelled, “HE STARTED IT! I WAS JUST DEFENDING MYSELF!” The white guy said, “I know, I know,” trying to appease her, but she couldn’t seem to lower her voice. People throughout the train were laughing at her, and the black man had stopped talking back to her, but she continued shouting, repeating phrases that didn’t make sense in context. We were all looking at each other like, “This woman is insane.”

The train stopped at Grand Central, and as a bunch of us filed out of the car–the air filled with the sort of shared feeling of relief that all survivors must feel–the black man turned to us, smiled, and said, “Sorry about that, everyone.” And then he continued on his way to work.


Comment Here


  1. Tracey says:

    Dude. Dont’ you feel like the subway (and pretty much all of NYC) is FILLED with the tension of what’s going to happen next? When you grow up in a world of country people who keep to themselves (except to give each other smiles and friendly waves), the dense sea of strangers in New York just feels volatile.

    • plumpdumpling says:

      I’m amazed every day that I wake up and the city hasn’t imploded. How do they keep everyone here from killing each other? There was a hullabaloo a while ago about drugs in the water; maybe that’s it.

  2. Tracey says:


    • plumpdumpling says:

      You know I had to approve this one, too, just to have a comment on this entry.

      But then I came here and saw that you’d already commented using your other address, so now I just feel greedy.

  3. Tina says:

    Oh man, the awkwardness of this whole situation is delightful.

    • plumpdumpling says:

      Isn’t it? I think all of us were secretly thinking, When she pulls out a knife, where is the fattest person I can hide behind?

  4. gooroo says:

    Nice, this portrait of New York and New Yorkers. You couldn’t have painted it more interestingly. So when are you going to write for a living?

    • plumpdumpling says:

      I’m going to write for a living as soon as you can find me a magazine that wants to give me a column and let me write JUST LIKE THIS every week. Lordy, that would be so perfect. I’d do it for free.

  5. gooroo says:

    WTF is this new format all about? Shit. I give up.

    • plumpdumpling says:

      I assume that you’re referring to the fact that I’m moderating comments. It’s not my fault, I swear! My spam blocker makes me do it!

      But just for you, I added a little explanation right before the “add comment” button. Don’t abandon me.

  6. Donna says:

    See, in the Midwest, everyone would be mad at the black guy rather than amused at the crazy latina. :P

    • plumpdumpling says:

      I think about differences like that all of the time. There seems to be a lot of Somalian hate in Ohio and a lot of Jewish hate here. I guess we white folk just like to be down on whoever happens to be in our line of sight. Hooray!

  7. ael88 says:

    I pretty much stop listening to anyone who says, “It’s a free country.”

    NYC is so progressive in its racial relations. A Latina woman dissing a black man in a car full of white people clapping and laughing. Who’d’ve thunk it.

    • plumpdumpling says:

      I know, right? It would actually be a free country if these “it’s a free country” assholes weren’t messing everything up for the rest of us.

      As always, the white people outnumbered everyone else, so we could do whatever the hell we wanted to. If that sort of thing ever changed around here, I’d move to Norway.

  8. Laurasaurus says:

    My roommate reads this site and I thought of it when I read your post.

    • plumpdumpling says:

      I love that site, and I really appreciate that other cities try to mimic it and FAIL MISERABLY.

      I’d really like to see myself on there someday. You’d think that with as much as I talk about my vagina in public, someone would’ve been interested.