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Nina In New York: The Enemy Has Struck The First Blow

Rat spotted in the Jamaica Center subway terminal on Sept. 21, 2011 (

FILE: New York City Rat (credit: Steve Sandberg/1010 WINS)

NYC Is A Strange Place

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
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By Nina Pajak

My worst nightmare has occurred.

Not to me, to someone else. A woman on the subway got attacked by a rat. Not just any subway. A subway in Columbus Circle, a station which I frequent. And it was at 8:00 a.m. on a weekday, which I understand is rush hour for people who aren’t pathologically late for work. This is creepy.

Okay, it isn’t my worst nightmare. My worst nightmare is being on an airplane that crashes into the ocean and then being forced to float around on seat cushions before being surrounded and viciously eaten by sharks. Also, home invasion. And now the idea that anyone and everyone around me could be high on bath salts and attack me out of nowhere and want to eat my face, because it seems like everyone on bath salts winds up wanting to eat a face at some point.

I digress.

Now no one can tell me not to freak out when I see a rat brazenly strolling down the platform towards the crowd of people. They won’t not bother us. They don’t want to mind their own business. They are officially not more afraid of us than we are of them. We’re way more afraid. They, on the other hand, are scrappy and arrogant and they know full well that people go screaming and diving to avoid them, leaving them free to amble past and eat all the scraps we toss or drop as we frantically move out of their way. They’re like little, furry, disease-ridden muggers.

Your muffin or your life, lady.

So this one, probably as part of some sort of gang initiation, ran up and scratched a woman’s leg as she boarded the subway car. I want to gag. This means war, right? We’re going to have to retaliate. Though I suppose we’ve been killing them much more than they’ve been scratching us. But still, we can’t let them think they can get away with this, right? Would it be inappropriate to start standing on the benches instead of sitting on them? I feel like as long as I’m only taking up one chair, it should be permitted. I’m going to have to start wearing galoshes and hazmat suits for my commute and carrying hairspray with me everywhere I go. I don’t know this for a fact, but I bet rats hate hairspray. It works on spiders. Or Windex. I once drowned a roach in about a cup and a half of Windex.

True story.

Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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