To continue the countdown to Encounters with Strangers, here is another story from the soon-to-be-published book. Morning Catfight, a typical look at what ensues on crowded subway trains Monday through Friday!
Every morning, frowning, New York City professionals pile into the subway, eagerly trying to get to work. We all push and sigh and groan and get impounded by briefcases, arms, and subway doors daily.
I thought about this as I walked through the turnstile to exit the NR’s Forty-Ninth Street subway station. Then I heard a woman yell, “If you can’t walk off the train fast enough, don’t get upset when someone pushes you out of the way!”
Of course, no one really seemed to pay attention, since this was a usual complaint. But then a loud smack sound reverberated in the subway station. Like robots, we all turned our heads at once to see a middle-aged woman on the ground.
The woman who was pushed had a long, yellow umbrella in her hand and looked like she was ready to use it as a weapon. She stood up to chase after her newfound enemy—a pregnant woman.
The “pregnant pusher” was heading to the turnstile when she looked behind her shoulder and yelled, “What? You want to hit me now?”
The fallen victim kept pointing and shaking her umbrella at the pushy woman and screamed, “I would hit you back if you weren’t pregnant!”
As soon as onlookers heard that the victim wasn’t going to hit the pregnant woman, they stopped watching and continued their cattle-like movement up the steps to the street. I followed suit but continued to listen to the last string of threats:
One woman screamed, “you monster!” and the other, “no! you are the monster!”
I don’t think it’s fair for a pregnant woman to start a fight, especially when she knows she probably won’t get hit—not even in one of the “rudest cities in America.”