Home View from Underground The two-dollar ride

The two-dollar ride

by Benjamin Kabak

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 Todd, a frequent SAS commenter and the author of Blog Name Removed.

Last Friday, I was slowly making my way downtown on the 4 train. It was a bad ride; we kept stopping between stations for long periods. Apparently, there was a problem further down the line and everything was backed up. It got to the point where people were cursing The MTA aloud. Then all of a sudden this elderly African-American man walked into the car. He was easily 7 feet tall; it was quite striking. (When was the last time you saw an obscenely tall old man?) He had to stoop, even in the tallest part of the train. After he found a seat next to me, we both sat and watched another guy grow increasingly angry at our whole non-moving situation.

Finally, the tall old man stood up and walked over to the angry guy. T.O.M. kinda tapped him on the shoulder, and in the most grandfatherly and non-offensive way, told him this:

“Son, this is what you get for a two-dollar ride. This is the cheap ride. It’s what you get. If you wanted to go fast, you go up there [pointing up] and pay for a ten-dollar ride. That’s the fast ride. This is the two-dollar ride. We go slower down here. No sense getting angry about something you can’t change.”

Angry guy stopped being angry. In fact, everyone within earshot just stopped for a second, including me. Then T.O.M. sat back down and everything was calm.

That experience has really stayed with me.

When Ben posts bad news about the subways, I am one of the first people to start blasting The MTA. The trains are always late, they smell (you my boy C-Dog!), they are too hot, the stations desperately need rehabilitation, the unions ruin everything, the workers are lazy, the MTA never finishes anything they start, their report cards are useless, and on and on…

That tall old man was right. If I wanted the faster, cleaner, and more reliable ride, I could pay for a cab. Even then, I would probably end up sitting in traffic inside a hot car that smells like curry, sweat, and broken dreams. The subway is still the best way to commute. It is much better for the environment, and it is very inexpensive, especially with the monthly pass. Sure, it sucks sometimes, but it is nice to put it back in perspective every once in a while.

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Josh August 14, 2008 - 2:29 pm

+1 to the Tall Old Man.

BNY August 14, 2008 - 3:00 pm

Well done, Todd.

And well done, T.O.M.

Pjason325 August 14, 2008 - 4:40 pm

A gentle answer turns away wrath. Great lesson for all of us to learn. Life is short and precious. Let’s invest in it!

Ariel August 14, 2008 - 5:34 pm

This puts into light how ungrateful New Yorkers tend to get when it comes to the Subway. People from other parts of the U.S. always tell me how much better public transportation is here than it is in whatever city, town or suburb they come from. The consensus among them seems to be that our Subway system is the best public transportation system in the country yet New Yorkers always complain.

Then again, would the Subway be what it is today without vocal constituents? Probably not.

It is essential we speak up in order to push authorities to do the best job they possibly can. But we must also keep our cool and acknowledge that we don’t have it as bad as others when it comes to public transportation!

quin browne August 14, 2008 - 7:35 pm

i loves the t.o.m.

great writing, todd!


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