An 18 Year Old High School Student Got Hit By An Express Train Today At Union Square

18 year old student struck by train at Union Square, 14th street.

18 year old student struck by train at Union Square, 14th street. (Image from: DNAinfo.com)

This morning when I was rushing to CCNY for a morning World Humanities class, I saw police stringing yellow tape across the top of the stairs leading down to the 4 5 6 platform at Union Square.  I stopped for a moment and glanced down and all I could say was “shit”, and then I kept moving.  There was blood all over the platform, the area was packed with cops, and I thought I saw what looked like a few … pieces.

It was interesting, but something about the situation didn’t make me want to stop and take a picture.  Maybe it had something to do with the janitor at the top of the stairs, his bucket of water and reddish looking mop sitting next to him.  It just seemed so… surreal all of a sudden.  We all go through these train stations every day, ride the trains every day, and in a moment of carelessness, we can wind up as a stain on the floor getting mopped up by a underpaid janitor using a dirty mop.

Life is brief enough as it is, and I feel bad for the person who got hit by the train, which I later found out was an 18 year old teen on his way to school.  He’s laid up in a hospital now, in critical condition.  The area the accident took place is right at the mouth of the tunnel and the trains enter the stations moving pretty quickly, so realistically, the kid will be lucky if he only suffers brain damage.  His whole life is shot, probably because he stuck his head out to check and see if the train was coming.  Those stations are noisy and there are lots of trains passing through, so he couldn’t have known one was coming up the tunnel right when he poked his head out.  It’s still a case of bad judgment though.  A very unfortunate case.

On my way home, I walked past the same staircase, so I went down to look around.  As I did, a train pulled into the station, and the conductor leaned out and was looking at the floor, where in the image above you can see all the blood.  I wonder if he was the rear conductor on the train that struck the kid this morning?

The lesson I’m taking from this is that the train will come, whether or not we stick our heads out over the tracks to look for it.  I’ll keep doing what I normally do: stand in the center of the platform and read while waiting on the train.

That Damn L-Train

Friday morning I had an adventure with the L-Train.  Sort of an adventure.  Well, mostly it was just a pain in the ass that made me late for class.  There was something wrong with the 7 train, so all of the people that normally take the 7 to get into Manhattan were taking the L.  I didn’t know this, of course, until after I was already in the station and on the platform.  I don’t have to take the L.  I could just take the bus from Avenue B to Union Square.  The L is usually a bit faster though.  Sometimes I’ve stood around for 20 minutes waiting on a bus, only to see three of them show up at the same time.  The L is usually more reliable.  Usually.  But when it fucks up, it really fucks up.

So, like I said, I swiped my card, walked through the turn-style and then down to the platform.  I stopped for a moment to take in the huge crowd of people.  They were packed in tight from the edge of the platform back, with barely enough space for people to squeeze through behind them.  That should have been my first indication that something was wrong, but I rarely ever take the train that early in the morning.  This was at 8:30 AM.  I have one class per week that starts in the morning and it only meets once per week.  Anyway, I took my position at the back of the crowd and waited.

About 10 minutes later, a train arrived.  The doors opened and people came flooding out, trying to push through the crowd.  Before they’d finished getting out, people were fighting to get in.  You know how it is.  The person running the train is playing the “Please stand clear of the closing doors” message before people even finish walking off the train.  Before I’d even managed to take one step forward, the people boarding were fighting to hold the doors open while they got onboard.  I got to the front and realized I couldn’t squeeze in, no matter how I tried, so the doors closed and the train left.

Ok.  That was disappointing, but I could just get the next train right?  Wrong.  About 10 minutes later another train approached the station.  Then it left the station, without even stopping.  Damn.  By this point, I was thinking I should have just taken the bus.  I’d have been at Union Square by then.  But I thought that by the time I got out of the subway and got to the bus stop, and rode the bus, another train would come and I’d waste even more time.  Besides, I wasn’t sure I could manage to get some sort of pass and I didn’t want to pay again.  I didn’t have an unlimited card.  So, I just waited.

15 minutes later another train finally showed up.  People streamed out of it, and then the crowd surged in.  I grabbed the pole in the middle of the train, between the doors and listened to a girl next to me screaming about some asshole who threatened her.  She had stepped off the train to let people out, and when she tried to get back on, someone stupid got confused and thought she didn’t have a right to get back on ahead of him.  Morons.

So, I was finally underway.  Maybe I wouldn’t be too late.  Or so I thought.

The train pulled into the next station, 3rd Avenue, and the conductor got on the intercom and told us that the train would be bypassing Union Square and not stopping until 8th Avenue. What the fuck?  So, I managed to get ONE station before having to get off the train and walk anyway.

When I got to Union Square I got in line at the ticket booth just in time to watch an old man scream at the guy for not letting him back into the train station for free after he had a problem with the L Train.  He screamed “Fuck you!” and then stomped over to the turn-style and paid again to get into the station.  That wasn’t very reassuring.  When I got up the counter, I presented my case, and for being courteous I was let into the station without having to pay again.  A small blessing.

So… to get from 1st Avenue to Union Square took me almost an hour Friday morning.  Thanks to the L train.  And the fun and games didn’t stop there.  By the time I got to the school I was thirsty, but all I had was a 20 dollar bill and the café and cafeteria wouldn’t give me change, so I had to leave the campus again, back the way I came, to go to a convenience store to get a drink.  What fun.

Luckily, when I got into the classroom, no great fuss was made about my being late.  Word of the 7 and L trains’ problems had preceded me.  I think from now on I’ll just take the bus, or walk, to Union Square.  The L train is too much of a pain in the ass to even bother with.

Boba Fett Spotted Playing Accordion on the L-Train Platform at Union Square

Ya. Really.

Boba Fett playing accordion on the L Train platform at Union Square.

Look to the left…

Boba Fett playing accordion on the L Train platform at Union Square.

Look to the right…

Play Zelda on your accordion all damn night!

This guy is awesome.  A quick Google search shows that he’s been doing this for over a year and he’s had a lot of Internet exposure (obviously) on YouTube and other blogs by people that have spotted him ‘in the wild’.

When I came down the stairs to the L Train platform and heard the accordion music, it sounded vaguely familiar and a little strange.  It wasn’t until I got home and Googled the guy that I realized it was Zelda music.  There are a lot of acts in New York’s subway station, but this is the best one I’ve seen so far.

Just to elaborate on that a bit, going through the subway is becoming more and more like taking a journey through a road show.  On my commute home today, I got to hear a speech from a pregnant woman on a train about how she’s trying to find help and was looking for handouts.  I got to hear an elderly black gentleman strum some country chords on a guitar, I heard some gospel music being sung, and then there was this guy.  Out of those acts, though, Boba Fett is the clear winner.

Oh, and as if this wasn’t bizarre enough, I saw a squirrel today on CCNY’s campus that was carrying around a shopping bag.  I guess consumerism is finally starting to rub off on New York City’s wildlife.

The Tokyo Circus in Lower East Manhattan

Tokyo Circus in Union Square Station, Manhattan, New York City.

On my way home from class tonight, I passed through Union Square station, and I happened to hear some really funky music playing.  There was a crowd so I stopped to see what was going on and saw this wildly dressed group of Asian people dancing around and having a good time.  I won’t lie.  My first thought was, “WTF Asian people.  Ha ha ha!”  They’re obviously slightly off center from normal, but they were holding signs that say “Be Yourself” and “Your smile is beautiful”.  It’s an encouraging, positive message, and I felt it was worth a dollar in the hat they had sitting on the floor.

When I got home, I took a look at the photos I’d taken and noticed a web address on the sign the guy on the right was holding that led to a site that identifies them as “Tokyo Circus”.  It has an ad that says they performed at a local bar on the 26th.  I guess they’re still hanging around to raise funds.  Maybe their performance wasn’t as profitable as they’d hoped.  This sort of thing seems a little out there, even for NYC.

After looking at some of the … unusual… videos they have displayed on their site, like the ones below, it makes me wonder just what my dollar is going to support, but at least it’s entertaining!

The Return of Spring, by Jack Beal (2001) Glass Mosaic at Times Square Train Station

The Return of Spring, Glass Mosaic by Jack Beal at Times Square subway station.

I happened to see this glass mosaic when I came up the stairs from the 1, 2, and 3 train platform, heading towards the N, Q, and R train platform.  I’m surprised I’ve never seen it before, but the place is usually packed with people, so that’s probably why I overlooked it.

Times Square station is surprisingly drab, with a lot of uninspiring colors and unadorned walls.  You’d figure the place would be better decorated, if only to drive more tourism.  The plainness of the station really made the bright colors of this mural stand out.

This is the accompanying plaque, which is located on a central pillar in the middle of the hallway the mosaic is in:

The information plaque for Jack Beal's glass mosaic at Times Square station.