New York City Travel Advisory

December 2007     New York City

This colorful dispatch comes in from our man on the East Coast, PJV. (Edited and re-printed here without permission.)

Tuesday morning I was in a cab, late for a meeting, staring out the window and trying to keep it all together as my drunkenness slowly converted to hangover. Traffic was gridlocked so the cab was in park. I found myself mesmerized by a trash tornado that was swirling the debris on the street into the air. This whole image of floating garbage was soothing, but in the background, something evil was brewing.

I observed two homeless dudes having an argument in front of a drug store, and it was getting pretty heated. One bum, let’s call him Janky, was screaming at the top of his lungs, while the other, let’s call him Stains, was pacing back and forth, muttering. While Janky kept screaming, Stains was stalking around as if he was searching for an axe to bury in Janky’s head. Frustrated, Stains dropped his drawers and produced a weapon. I’ve lived in New York for almost three years, and I know it is not uncommon for bums to use the sidewalk as a toilet, so I wasn’t shocked. I’ve seen it a dozen times before. As Stains was doing his thing in front of the drug store (great for business), Janky continued his ranting. Well, I guess Janky pushed Stains a little too far that morning, because Stains instigated biological warfare, right there on a crowded sidewalk. This might be the only action that would grab the attention of jaded New Yorkers and send them running for cover, and that they did. Janky took a direct hit, but the fight was on – he confiscated the rest of Stains’ arsenal and chased him down the street with it, around the corner and out of sight. Sigh. I was hoping to see more of the bumfight. My cab still hadn’t moved, so I decided to take my chances underground. I paid the $8 fare, thanked the cabbie for taking me three blocks, and headed for the subway.

As I was descending the stairs, a team of paramedics were bringing a young woman up on a stretcher and politely yelling “Get the fuck out of the way!” At first glance, she was pretty hot. About 25, blonde hair, blue eyes, pretty face. But as she got closer, I could see she had black stuff smudged on her face and in her hair. What was it? Tar? Grease? I also noticed that she didn’t have any shoes on, but her feet were smeared as well. Could this be the work of our homeless mudslingers? As the paramedics rushed her out of the subway, I noticed how calm she seemed, so I didn’t really give it any more thought.

I pushed through the turnstile and approached the platform only to find the train sitting there empty. A few minutes went by and still nothing; we were all starting to get pissed off. An MTA employee was wandering around so I asked her what’s up. She pointed at a guy sitting against a wall in the corner, wearing a Santa hat and rocking back and forth uncontrollably. He was handcuffed, with two cops standing over him. She told me “The crazy asshole in the hat pushed a girl in front of the train.” I said, “Holy shit! I just saw her getting taken up the stairs on a stretcher.” The MTA lady shrugged and started picking up trash on the platform. I asked her, “If the girl is ok and they have the guy who did it, what is the hold up with the train?”

“They are still looking for her hand.”

During this Christmas season, if you are traveling to New York, please be careful on the subway platform and be on the lookout for homeless poo-flingers…

– PJV

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