Hey, Metro-North? Did somebody fall off the platform in Goldens Bridge recently? I was surprised to notice when I got off the train this evening the platform was covered in new, yellow paint. Atop the paint, stenciled in black, were the words “Watch the gap.” There were just… so many of them! I don’t think I’ve seen a station with this many, that close together. In Japan the train platforms have markings where the train’s door will open. Wouldn’t that have been cooler to paint on the platform? Really though, did someone fall off? I bet it was Sleeper Kid. I always worried about him. He’s always drunk, or stoned, or something in between, teetering precariously close to the edge of the platform…

But then again, here I am judging someone I observe on the train. Someone, who wishes to remain anonymous, told me a story today. They told me that they no longer judge people they see on the train. Because really, you’re only viewing just a minimal slice of their life. You don’t know what is up with them. Maybe they’re having a bad day. Or they’re sick. Or they have early stages of dementia. I was told the story of a person, who from here on I will refer to as David. My friend, who rides a particular train every day, noticed David. David sort of smelled like alcohol, and was carrying two large cups of some sort of liquid, which my friend assumed to be alcoholic. When the conductor came by to collect the tickets, David kept trying to set down the cups, and searched every pocket for his ticket, to no avail. He tried to speak, but just kept mumbling unintelligible words. My friend watched the exchange. The man appeared to fall asleep, or perhaps pass out. The conductor tried to wake him up, and he began searching for the ticket again. By now the conductor, and everyone else, assumed the man to be highly intoxicated. I’m not sure if David ever managed to find his ticket. But eventually when he got off the train, everyone watched him stagger out onto the platform. And then they watched him fall down the stairs. By that time the train was in motion, there really wasn’t anything they could do.

Fast-forward a few days. My friend sees David on the train again. David has bruises all over, his face is discolored and purple. His hand is wrapped in a bandage. This time David is coherent, and talks with the conductor about what happened the last time he rode the train, and how he fell down the stairs. The conductor asked him what had happened, and why he fell. The man pulled up his sleeve, revealing a medical bracelet. He said that he is diabetic, and that day on the train, he was going into diabetic shock. He had the juice for the sugar, but was having difficulties walking, let alone drinking. Let’s just say that my friend felt a little bit like an asshole, having judged the man as a drunk, when in reality he was pretty much going into a diabetic coma, right there on the train.

I’ll try and be a little less judgmental the next time I see somebody like that on the train.

And just as a final note, I wanted to let you all know that Commuter Nation is having a little contest… you can win up to a year of free commuting, which of course is pretty awesome. Especially if you are in one of those places that will be seeing a fare increase. I’d love to suggest Commuter Nation to my work, so I could get my ticket a little cheaper, but they want to know who the benefits manager is for your company. Is it a little bit sad that I don’t know the answer to that question? The one I knew, well, she got laid off. Ouch.

6 Responses

  1. Eric R. says:

    LIRR recently changed their usual “Watch the Gap” announcements to “Step Over the Gap.” Maybe the new paint is just general MTA cya going a bit overboard.

    I have a coworker that went into a diabetic shock a while back. He just said he wasn’t feeling good and wandered off. It was a pretty scary couple of hours trying to find him. Eventually he was found a few floors up, slumped over in a corner.

  2. Jeremy says:

    The LIRR has pretty muched covered all their platforms with Watch the Gap — at least one for every car-length of platform. They have also programmed the M-7’s to make an announcement after “this is the train to; the next station is” and “this station is” that says please “step over the gap between the train and the platform.” Apparently “watch the gap” (the old message) didn’t sufficiently insult the average person’s intelligence.
    And thanks for that story…I think we’ve all been guilty at one time or another of making a quick assessment of another person as you say, upon seeing only a slice of their life.

  3. Steven says:

    Beacon on the Hudson Line was also done back in May along with the rest of MN system it seems.

  4. Bryan says:

    “As you leave the train please watch the gap between the train and the platform.” After a while, I love the fact it gets stuck in your head. Personally, I think the MTA should just use the stickers you made for them.

  5. Jed Vad says:

    It is probably Banksy ;-)

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