PRATIE PLACE

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

our life before the strike

Even under normal conditions, people who live in New York talk obsessively about how to get from place to place. One of my friends visited from LA and became paralyzed by boredom every time one of these conversations started. Her choice: hop in the car. That's it. But for us, it's just so interesting. You have all kinds of options for your transportation, each of which exposes you to its own unique awful smell and which has a unique possibility of failing you at the worst possible time.

I'd like to map this out for you. This is the raw data that feeds into a decision at any time.


TRANSPORTATION OPTION
: Foot
OBSTACLES: Tourists
ADVANTAGES: Simple; reliable
DISADVANTAGES: Can take a long time; it's cold outside; the heels of your cute shoes can get stuck in sewer grates
NEAT THING YOU COULD BUY ALONG THE WAY:
Toilet paper, groceries, other things you probably forgot to buy during your shlep yesterday
OBJECTIONABLE ODOR: Exhaust from city-at-large
WAY THAT YOU COULD DIE: Mowed down by taxi cab while simultaneously listening to iPod, drinking coffee, and jaywalking



TRANSPORTATION OPTION
: Subway
OBSTACLES: The slow-moving N-R-Q-W train
ADVANTAGES: Quick; reliable; cheap
DISADVANTAGES: Umm... apparently, it's not *that* reliable
NEAT THING YOU COULD BUY ALONG THE WAY: Bootlegged DVDs and ethnic-style toddler ponchos sold by hostile South Americans.
OBJECTIONABLE ODOR: Warm, stale, subway air that has been circulating underground since the Triassic.
WAY THAT YOU COULD DIE: Pushed onto tracks at rush hour by mob pressing toward edge of platform


TRANSPORTATION OPTION
: Taxi cab (legal)
OBSTACLES: insolent pedestrians
ADVANTAGES: fast, unless there's traffic (deciding whether there will be traffic is a whole nother conversation)
DISADVANTAGES: Never available on weekend evenings or during entire holiday season; sometimes hit on you or preach to you about Jesus
NEAT THING YOU COULD BUY ALONG THE WAY: n/a
OBJECTIONABLE ODOR: Cigarettes.
WAY THAT YOU COULD DIE: Taxi driver runs red light while simultaneously changing lanes and swerving to avoid pedestrian; collides with another taxi cab


TRANSPORTATION OPTION
: taxi cab (illegal)
OBSTACLES: legal taxi cabs
ADVANTAGES: fast; gives you the same law-breaker adrenaline rush as buying a counterfeit handbag
DISADVANTAGES: Not cheap. Apt to cheat you unless you bargain a good price beforehand. Driver has no incentive to act legally in any situation.
NEAT THING YOU COULD BUY ALONG THE WAY: Depends what he's selling.
OBJECTIONABLE ODOR: Cigars
WAY THAT YOU COULD DIE: In fatal car crash during police pursuit of illegal cab; your face would end up all over New York Post the next day next to humiliating alliterative headline

TRANSPORTATION OPTION: bicycle
OBSTACLES: Essentially none.
ADVANTAGES: Not responsible for following any traffic laws. Only responsible for your own survival.
DISADVANTAGES: Responsible for your own survival.
NEAT THING YOU COULD BUY ALONG THE WAY: If you are riding a bicycle, odds are that you are carrying tasty Chinese food on your front handlebars. You could just eat that.
OBJECTIONABLE ODOR: Shrimp-fried rice.
WAY THAT YOU COULD DIE: I think this one is pretty obvious



TRANSPORTATION OPTION
: bus
OBSTACLES: Pedestrians; taxi cabs; bicycles; other buses; dust motes and passing clouds
ADVANTAGES: Very cheap. Much more comfortable than the subway. Sit in comfort while watching hoi polloi trudge along the street below you.
DISADVANTAGES: Hoi polloi are most likely moving faster than you are.
NEAT THING YOU COULD BUY ALONG THE WAY: A discount ride: if you don't bring enough quarters to pay for your bus ride, the drivers usually just roll their eyes and wave you on back.
OBJECTIONABLE ODOR: your seat-mate.
WAY THAT YOU COULD DIE: old age. While still on bus.

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3 Comments:

At 10:28 PM, Blogger Prego said...

Roller-blades
Obstacles - lack of skating skills/abrasions/public ridicule
Advantages - Marginally quicker than walking
Disadvantages - See obstacles
Neat thing - bandages
Objectionable odor - NYC
Way You could die - Buses, cabs, tourists or blisters


here via michele - funny stuff.

 
At 12:34 AM, Blogger Mirty said...

One year when I was a student at Columbia, on 116th Street, I was living on 97th Street. I usually ended up walking. The busses, in those days, were filled with pick-pockets and I kept losing my wallet when I took the bus. The subways, especially the Number 1 line (Upper West Side Local), were horrifically filthy. I think they've cleaned up a bit since. No human waste under the seats perhaps. Never really considered a bicycle, though I was tempted to try skateboarding. Couldn't afford cabs.

 
At 4:41 PM, Blogger melina said...

It has cleaned up quite a bit since then. Most subway lines - and most of the buses I've been on - are actually pretty clean. And I don't think there are many pickpockets around either - believe me if there were I wouldn't have a single thing left in my bag most days

 

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