This is your typical morning as a New Yorker. You wait for a bus that is fifteen minutes off schedule. Your bus ride becomes incredibly cramped and slow as it makes every stop to pick up long lines of other people. You get off to transfer to a train, where an astounding amount of people are waiting to get on the train. The train station is hot and heavy, and so are its passengers, who are anxiously awaiting the next train. Once it arrives, the people will start to push– they need to be quick to get a seat, and they will take no prisoners. You are pushed and shoved as a wave of commuters fight for the empty seats, like an angry game of musical chairs. At this point, you are left standing in the train, with elbows in your face, and personal space becomes an abstract concept. It seems like everything around you is working against you; your day has only just begun, but you are already drained. This is the morning of millions of New Yorkers, who spend hours upon hours every day in a sort of spatial limbo– just waiting to get to their next destination.

I hate hearing train announcements because they only deliver bad news. In Massumi’s text, he describes the change in intensity of affect when fragments of a situation are altered and how language is one of those factors. When he talks about how matter-of-fact speech dampens the emotional experience of a situation, I immediately thought of a commuter’s most dreaded words: “The train is delayed due to train traffic ahead of us.” But a slow or stopped train does not immediately register negatively in my mind. Charles’ video the ignorance of people to their surroundings. They do not understand the vulnerability that exists in relying on a single entity, and are awakened to harsh reality after those weaknesses are exploited and attacked. In the same way, I manipulate my surroundings to the best of my ability– my eyes are directed on the floor to avoid strange eye contact and my ears are flooded with music to block out the grating sound of the train tracks. But once those dreaded words play over the loudspeaker, I get angry. It’s probably responsible of the train conductor to let the passengers know the reason for the delay, but it doesn’t matter to me in that moment. It’s the last thing I want to hear. The words are a reinforcement negative emotions and a reminder of my frustrations. It reminds me that I waste too much time in my day waiting instead of doing, to no fault of my own. I suppose my reaction to the simple sentence is irrational, but rationality was never my forte.


~ by hendrick on October 4, 2015.

2 Responses to “Subways”

  1. As one of New Yorkers, the way Hendrick started off by reminding me of a typical morning at the transportation is interesting enough for me to engage in his post. I was able to draw the situation he described and helped me understand better when it came to the points drawn by Massumi. Hendrick’s post was based on the description of everyday life in which anyone could easily experience, and still he made the points well by providing his personal connection to it.

  2. This is a personal piece. As it brings me (the reader) into the daily frustrations of commuting using the subway. This frustration is one that I go through myself all the time, but I believe it is only me. The way you brought me into your world was interesting and made me realize that we are bothered by similar things.
    I enjoyed the descriptions you gave about the subways too. It gave an accurate picture of the daily struggle of commuters, especially mentioning announcements. I wish you included a bit more about the video because it was very similiar to piece.

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