A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
By Nina Pajak
It’s no secret to any straphanger in this city that the MTA has had an embattled relationship with its customers of late. Service cuts, costly construction projects, spaghetti fights, subway-riding rats, the usual.
During my commute on Wednesday morning, a thought occurred to me. Like many other days, I was bogged down by unwavering heat while waiting approximately 10 or so hours for my train to arrive. While busying myself by attempting to staunch the flow of sweat from washing away my face entirely – and watching countless other riders limply fanning themselves with wilted paperbacks and subway maps – I realized that, while service interruptions and fare hikes in no way enhance my life, they are a fact.
It is what it is, and that’s the way it’s going to be.
On the other hand, were there a few well-placed, oscillating fans on the platform, my tolerance of these problems would be significantly more expansive.
So I’d like to propose some very simple and, in my mind, reasonable trades. Let’s table the big stuff, it’s messy and those conversations are unpleasant and go nowhere. I think it might be nice for everyone to focus in on some attainable goals. You know, set ourselves up for a little success? In exchange for the service cuts and fare hikes which we now acknowledge are ineluctable, I make the following requests. I promise that with these compromises, all the crappy stuff the MTA is doing to us won’t seem quite so enraging.
1. Aforementioned cooling devices on underground platforms. Waiting in an airless tunnel during a heat wave is just no fun. While it sure would be swell to have actual air conditioning in our subway stations, I do not dare dream so big. But would it kill someone to place a bunch of plastic fans around? Tell you what. I’ll just pop over to Bed, Bath & Beyond on my way home tonight and get a whole mess of them. There are the standing ones, the ones that clip or can be stuck onto a wall or ceiling—the possibilities are broad.
2. Short of that, I will accept paper fans distributed with or in lieu of one of the free commuter newspapers. Perhaps the guys who hand out the newspapers should actually use them to make accordion fans to hand out. I bet they could give away a lot more of them. See what we’ve all been reduced to?
3. Time boards in all stations, for all lines. Don’t be such a tease. The only thing worse than seeing that your train won’t arrive for 14 minutes is waiting 14 minutes with absolutely no idea when your train will arrive.
4. Actual free Wi-Fi in stations, not just signs that announce free Wi-Fi. If I could actually take a few turns on Scramble With Friends while receiving my sporadic blasts of fanned air, I may not spend my eternal wait time wondering whether fainting might be a preferable course of action. In the meantime, I spend that eternity staring a little rotating circle on my phone, indicating that it will be “loading” until the end of days.
5. Metal or concrete benches. They sound uncomfortable, sure. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have a seat without wondering whether you’re directly on top of a metropolis of nesting bed bugs? No? Just me? Don’t lie.
This is just a jumping off point. What else do you have in mind?
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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