I’m on vacation for the next week, but since New York’s subways never shut down, neither will Second Ave. Sagas. I’ve enlisted the help of a few bloggers to help keep things fresh around here. Today’s guest post comes to us from Clinton, keeper of the Zombie Fights Shark! blog. Be forewarned: This guest column is not for the faint of heart or nose, and the piece contains some adult language. Sadly, there is no nudity.
The subways of New York City are, for better or for worse, one of our nation’s greatest achievements in the arena of mass transit. There simply isn’t a better system out there… Chicago? Please, it’s all color-coded and it looks like Candyland fucked a civil engineer (there’s a Pink Line… A PINK LINE!!! Can you imagine?) Washington DC? I heard that every ride automatically registers you to be a Government page; believe me when I tell you… those Senators… they get handsy. And don’t get me started on the supposed Los Angeles subway system. Let’s just say that the term “movable crack house” could be spray-painted across the side of all their trains and everyone would just nod their heads and say, under their breath, in an awed tone, “Finally… honesty.”
So that leaves New York, in all it’s shiny, metal glory. Getting us from here to there all awesome-style with just enough bureaucratic nonsense and threats of a violent mugging so as we don’t get too comfortable. However, despite the general goodness of the NYC transit system, there are some issues. And it’s one of these issues that I’d like to discuss with you now, as it is, and I don’t think I’m overstating this, THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING COMMUTERS TODAY.
I’m talking about smells. BAD smells. Stinky trains, kids, of which our beloved transit system has by the bucketful. I mean, sure, you could argue that rampant fare increases or dangerous, poorly-maintained platforms or marauding bands of C.H.U.D.s are really the more pressing issues out there, but… no… I’m here to tell you that it’s the way the trains smell that affect us most. Although, granted, bad odors won’t bite your faces off late at night (that’s mainly the C.H.U.D.s domain), but still.
So, here now, a breakdown of the bad smells found underground, on the train, with you, up your nose…
Food – Being a decadent fat man myself, I can understand the appeal of eating a large, sloppy sandwich all runny with mayonnaise and oil and big hunks of shaved meat just dripping out of that bitch like a jailbait tease… “Eat me, big boy… eat me hardcore…” I get it, I do. But, dude, your sandwich is not for public enjoyment. It’s making the train smell like a deli died a bad death and that, coupled with the sight of your greasy maw sadly chewing and chewing and CHEWING, is bumming us the fuck out harder than if our parents were getting squished in front of us by that big steel-press thingy they used to kill the first Terminator in Terminator. And that goes DOUBLE for you, dude-eating-McDonalds. McDonalds stinks worse than an open grave and you brought that into a closed environment like that wasn’t the worst thing you do to your fellow passengers short of stabbing them in the eye with your house key? What’s wrong with you? I hope you die in a tragic Playland collapse because I just fucking KNOW you’re up there on the slides feeling free as a bird even though it clearly states those are just for kids. So rude, you, and eating in public where we all have to get nostril-violated by it is just a symptom. And I can’t even discuss people that bring Chinese food or, god forbid, Indian food on the train. That’s like looking to the eyes of a madman and seeing nothing but your own soul, rotting.
Sweat – During the summer, New York is roughly a million billion degrees. And it’s humid, too, so it’s kind of like someone took a swamp, tied it up with the Equator, and started using it like a cudgel to beat us into slimy, nasty submission. And when we get tired of said beating, we get on the subway to go home. So there we are, our shirts all clingy like an ex-girlfriend and out faces so moist, it looks like we head-butted a Sparkletts truck. Now, sometimes you’ll be on a nifty new, baby blue subway car that’s got a brand-spankin’ AC pumping out cold air and love and everyone goes “AAAAHHHH” and considers ditching their apartments to just live right here until October. Mostly, though, you end up on one of the old cars. The 1970s yellow-orange cars that had their air conditioning units installed by union members working under the governmental control of Fiorello LaGuardia. Armpit city, man, and you better BELIEVE the dude standing next to you’s shower broke last week and he hasn’t bothered to fix it because he’s lazy and thus smells like a jockstrap nightmare that a neutron bomb made of Right Guard couldn’t fix. So that’s what summertime in the city is like, my friends. Damp, unpleasant, mean, and cruel. Anyone that tells you different is a robot.
Vomit – A couple of years ago, I was riding the train on my morning commute, not a care in the world, a heart full of happy songs and a mind free and clear of the horrors one could brush up against when traveling by rail. There was a little girl standing in front of me, holding her father’s hand and eating a sticky bun that appeared to be filled with sweet, delicious paste. Apparently, however, the bun was ACTUALLY filled with botulism garbage liberally doused with Ipecac because, not five seconds after her last bite, she exploded in a fountain of puke that made Old Faithful feel bad about its volume of liquid output, even though it KNOWS geysers and little barfing girls are two totally different things. Anyway, the whole car reeked like a frat pledge’s laundry for the rest of the ride into the city and this is but a small sample of the vomiting crimes committed on NYC public transportation. Particularly on the weekends, when everyone’s stumbling out of the bars after their jerkass friend dared them to do ONE MORE shot of Cuervo even though they were already feeling spinny and they thought they could make it home but they couldn’t and suddenly there’s a lake of pizza slices and the aforementioned tequila and everyone in the car wishes they were born without noses.
Human Waste – Like, from the butt or the wang. It doesn’t happen often, but it DOES happen, usually with the swiftness of building blowing up or, rather, out. Onto the floor. In a puddle or a pile and everyone’s frozen in horror and the person… the “expeller,” if you will… is standing there suddenly forced to pick through the wreckage of their life to see exactly at what point they went horribly wrong and ended up here, amongst shame and strangers and their own filth. Farts are the most common HW happening and, unless they particularly favor a busted septic tank, they can just as easily be dismissed as a momentary lapse of etiquette. Pee would come next and, again, it all goes back to those damned bars and your fucking friends who just HAVE to fill you full of beer even though they KNOW you have a bladder like Bonnie & Clyde’s car after the ambush. So you’re halfway to your stop and your whole existence has become red-faced and clenched and all about NOT…FUCKING… PEEING… and then suddenly, train hits a bump or takes a curve too hard, and SKERPLOOOSH. Life will never be the same. And then there’s poo… well, it’s pretty much the same as pee, except fifty times worse, more smelly, and mentally scarring for all parties involved.
And finally… encompassing all of the above…
The Homeless – Okay, look, like any good liberal with idealistic leanings, I’m not insensitive to the plight of the downtrodden. Hell, I even dress like them for the most part (clothes with holes are still cool, right?) and if I’ve got some spare change loitering in my pocket, I’ll now and again toss it their way in hopes they can find some booze to ease their pain, if only for a night. But the fact remains… the homeless are the smelliest of the subways smells, especially since they tend to be a combo platter of the previous four categories we’ve discussed. The whole is far greater (greater = stanky) than the sum of it’s parts, as it were. They’ve got the moldy food that they’ve hoarded, they’ve got sweat pretty well locked down, what with the never-showering thing, they’ve got the vomit because they drink a lot or do a lot of easily obtained (and thus nearly toxic) street drugs, and they’ve got the human waste going on because no business lets the homeless use their public toilets (and even if they did, most homeless folk aren’t really all that bothered by just busting out brown right in their shabby hobo slacks). And again, I’m not trying to mock them or say, “Ha ha, look at the poor insane Vietnam vet who can afford his medicine.” That’s not my style. I bring it up only because it’s an irrefutable fact of subway life… the homeless are there a lot, they smell really bad most of the time (barring a recent prison and/or rehab stint) and that’s just the way it is. Sad but true. And gross.
So there you have it; a primer on the odors of the underground. I can only assume that you’ve now learned everything you need to know on the subject of stinkiness and trains and that you’ll use this knowledge only for good (although I don’t technically see how one could use it for bad, other than targeting homeless people for swift drubbings with a scented candle… which, by the way, don’t do that). So, I guess that’s it. I did want to thank my boy Ben for letting me sully his good name and reputation with my own particular brand of whimsy. Sorry about that. And to all his readers who came here looking for actual news… er, sorry as well. He’ll be back soon. And to everyone else… thanks for reading! To you, and to the subways themselves, I say… smell ya later!!!