As I was getting off the train near my office in upper Manhattan, I heard a commotion and turned to see a gentleman who seemed to be in his 60s falling down with shock and horror on his face. A couple of women exclaimed loudly and bent down to help him. His right foot was stuck between the train and the platform. Before I could realize what was happening, the train had started moving. Luckily for the man, this was the door on the the first car and very close to the driver, who heard the commotion. The train stopped and the man was able to extricate his leg and pick up his office bag and stand on his feet. He started to hobble and walk towards the escalator. I asked him if he was able to walk. He seemed embarrassed, but I was relieved to see he was okay. Eventually he got on the escalator and went on his way, presumably to work.
Something similar happened to me too a month ago when I had worn new shoes to work, which made me slip twice and fall on the escalator. I hurt my thumb and hand and went bleeding all the way. I was more embarrassed than in pain. Which is silly. But I guess a man’s pride is a lot bigger than his common sense.
This incident made me think of something else. The alienation and solitude that transplants and new immigrants feel in a megalopolis like The Big Apple. How tempting it could be for the weary and mentally tired soul, when standing close to the edge of the tracks, to think how easy it would be to take that extra step off the edge of the platform? Most people do not act on it but this is one of those peculiar and destructive impulses best described by Edgar Allan Poe, in an essay of the same name, as The Imp of the Perverse. “We stand on the brink of a precipice,” writes Poe. “And because our reason violently deters us from the brink, therefore do we most impetuously approach it. There is no passion so demoniacally impatient as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a plunge.”
NYC Subway is a very convenient mode of public transportation. However, as in life, one needs to be careful and watch where they step. Thanks be to the alert women and equally alert driver who stopped the train and prevented what could have been a serious injury to the gentleman.