Main | Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pray Lady Day

The 6 Train, Tuesday, 8:45AM

I'm running late. I'm usually at my desk by 8:30, and here I am trying to squeeze onto one of the last-minute-if-you-have-to-be-there-by-9AM downtown trains. Part of the loveliness of being one of the first to arrive in my office is that I rarely have to ride on the super crowded trains.

A jam-packed train arrives and when the doors open, nobody gets off. The dozen or so people that are standing in front of each of the dozen or so sets of open doors stare at the dozen or so unmoving sardines that are crammed into each of the doorways. The train departs without exchanging a single passenger. Sixty seconds later, another train arrives to the same result.

I'm considering just walking to work, but my train ride is usually under 10 minutes and it takes me about 40 minutes to walk. I'm already running a bit late, so I decide to take a chance on one more train.

Train #3 arrives and I squeeze, squeeze, careful, excuse me, sorry, squeeze more....and I'm on. I make the "Oy, vey!" face at the woman I've shoved up against and she smiles. At least I've only got 2 stops before Grand Central.

59th Street. This is where all the Bloomingdales employees get off. This is the stop where I sometimes end up with a little make-up on my shirt, as the heavily painted counter girls (and boys!) push by me.

51st Street. This is where the billionaires get off. The Citibank tower is at this stop. This is the stop where I once saw Mayor Bloomberg get off. This is the stop where I waited next to a guy who shouted into his Blackberry, "No! Leave the 3 mil in the draft account. I might need that in Osaka."

Twenty seconds after we pull out of the 51st Street station, the train jolts to an abrupt stop. If the train weren't so crowded, somebody might have fallen. Instead, we all just crush heavily into our neighbors. The woman next to me makes the "Oooh!" face and I smile back.

From the loudspeaker: "Ladies and gentleman, we apologize for the delay. There's a signal problem on the track ahead of us. Repairs are being made and we should be under way again shortly. We thank you for your patience."

Immediately, from somewhere in the middle of my car, a woman starts speaking loudly. She's praying, actually. Loudly. I turn my head with the rest of the passengers to see who it is, but I can't see her. From the way everyone is looking, it seems that the praying lady must be seated.

Her voice rises and falls in a cadence surely copied from a TV minister, "Please Jesus! Protect this train and your servants that are riding it. But if it's your plan take us into your bosom today, sweet Jesus, know that we are ready. Jesus, we all know you have a plan and we're just trying to get to work today and we thank you for giving us this day and for giving us each other and ...."

(Insert image of my eyes crossing: *here*)

Pray Lady goes on. She stops when the loudspeaker comes alive, but it's the same announcement, and she picks right up where she'd stopped, in mid-sentence. "- and thank you Jesus, for giving us these wonderful transit workers..." This is where she loses even her fellow Jesus freaks, I am betting. Everyone is shaking their heads and wishing she would stop, to judge by their furrowed eyebrows and tightly held lips. But Pray Lady just keeps praying.

The air in the car is getting a little stuffy. I'm already overdressed for this entirely-not-caused-by-global-warming-70 degree-almost-December morning, but I don't even have the room the pull my arms out of my jacket and hold it. I can feel sweat running down my sides, in little sticky Pray Lady-hating rivulets. Of all days to be iPod free, it has to be today. On Pray Lady Day.

Twenty minutes pass. Seriously. Pray Lady is still going. Seriously.

"We are ready, sweet Jesus. Ready to walk into your welcoming bright light..."

The "Ooh" woman mutters, "I'm ready to walk into the welcoming black tunnel, if she doesn't stop." That gets a few snickers. Pray Lady continues, "By the blood of the cross, we submit to you, sweet Jesus. We humble ourselves to your infinite wisdom and mercy and-"

From the far end of the car comes a shout, a man's voice, deep and raspy and with a pitch-perfect Archie Bunker Queens accent, "Dear Jesus, will you please shut this bitch the fuck up? Thank you, JESUS!"

And as if on cue, the train comes to life with a squeal and a lurch.

Perfect.

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