Undergrounded

New York City skyline

My daughter is about butt height. Stuff her on a rush hour NYC subway train headed to Central Station with farts just waiting happen, and it is the recipe for six year old terror. It struck me that not many kids appeared to ride the subway no matter what time of day but especially not at rush hour.

Now I know why.

To be honest, I was nervous about the subway myself. All of those things people say about it….

Avoid the subway. It’s awful. All that stale urine. So dirty! Everyone is terribly rude. You’ll get mugged or robbed or worse. Just use Uber for crying out loud!

For my daughter, though, the subway was her favorite part of New York City. “It’s fast, mommy.” She sighed, content. “Speed is my life.”

“If it were me, I’d just let your kids sit the whole time,” volunteered a man from Arizona who was riding out to Battery Park with his own son. My son slouched back into his seat, nodding his head vigorously in agreement. I didn’t ask for this man’s advice but he had seen me force my kids to stand while people were entering the car in case our seats were needed. One of the people entering was a heavily pregnant woman and I pointed that out to him more for the benefit of my kids than for him. “Oh. Well. Ok.” 

He shut up after that but the damage was done. An adult had contradicted mom’s unpopular edict. 

On the return trip from the Statue of Liberty my kids grumbled and groaned and rolled their eyes when we all stood to allow a group of elderly women to take our seats.

“Where are you from?” a woman from Greenwich Village asked. We told her. “Thank you for giving up your seat to those women,” she told my kids. “It was very kind.” They beamed. Suddenly they understood. Mom was not just some crazy hack. Being courteous to others really is a good thing. 

When we missed our stop she got off the train herself to point us in the right direction, even though that was not a convenient thing for her.

New York is awesome.

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84 thoughts on “Undergrounded

  1. I was six when I first went to NYC and rode the subway. I remember the horrible smell and ladies dresses blowing up in my face at my eye level. Laughing…..Your post brought the trauma all back rushing back…. πŸ™‚

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  2. The subway is an essential part of the NY experience. I took my daughter on it the first time I took her to NY and she’s been riding it every since. We’ve met some strange people but no one harmful.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Home sweet home. Someone visited the observation deck at Rockefeller Center.

    I don’t want to insert myself into your trip but you really should’ve contacted me. I’m the best tour guide in town. I can provide references. Minimally, I can give you tips and tricks. How to avoid the clip joints. Cheap eats. Stuff like that.

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    • You are one of the handful of bloggers I would love to meet in real life. In fact, your blog made me want to go to NYC in the first place! But I struggle with the whole maintaining anonymity thing. Plus, you might think less of me once you *really* met my kids… πŸ˜‰

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      • I get that. But, just so you know, I’ve had about a dozen blog meet-ups. Everyone passes through NYC at one point or another! They’ve all been great experiences. It’s an odd sensation to put a face on it. It’s never what you expect. But it’s always a warm welcome. A stranger, but not really.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I promise you we will be back and I WILL let you know. I missed getting inside the New York Public Library and Trinity church and only got to snap photos of the Brooklyn Bridge from the water so there is work yet to be done for next trip. You probably passed me on the street. I was the one holding up sidewalk traffic, pointing her camera at odd architectural things that probably no one else notices…

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  4. I am also scared to get on the subway in NYC.. because it is too confusing. YOu see up north in Canada, Toronto – we only have 3 – 4 lines… take the city 10 years to build 1 line with 5 stops. you get the point. My daughters love the subway rides too… but we always go at non rush hours. Maybe they will have different view when I take them during rush hours. It will be more painful for me than for them… hearing them say “mommy…are we there yet… I am tired… I am thirty…mommy”.

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  5. I think your children had one of life’s best teaching tools and that is, reality. Nothing can compare to seeing and living a lesson learned. Good for you and for your children.

    I hope you will meet with Mark someday when you return to NYC. I will never meet him but he is one of my most favorite bloggers and comes across as very genuine and down to earth.

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  6. Amazing how kids (us included once upon a time) will realize the value of good deeds… when it comes from the mouth of an objective party (= non-mom)! Hey, I’m with you: notwithstanding the occasional grunge and miscreants, la grande pomme rocks πŸ˜‰

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  7. My sister was working in New York about 15 or so years ago and I went out to join her for a holiday, I had been told all the same things as you about the subway ..but l loved it, I loved New York and I loved the people!! Well done you for teach your children a life lesson and sticking to your guns… You were right! πŸ’œπŸ’πŸ’–

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    • I could live in NYC! It was fascinating. We had the best $1/slice pizza and Chinese food and Indian food all within a couple of blocks of our hotel. Where else can you walk to all of that? Of course, La Guardia is like a third world country right now, but we survived it. πŸ™‚

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      • All airports are a nightmare right now but hey! Yes I walked everywhere, took the tourist Bus and the subway, yes the restaurants are all within walking distance πŸ’œπŸ’ plus my sister knew all the best places to go in the evening πŸ’—

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Kids ride the subway all the time. But they are still in school now, so it would be on the way to school and on the way home…at that time the trains are full of children.
    It’s interesting, the offering of seats. Women are definitely more aware than men, except for young Latino men. Their mothers raised them right. High school kids, on their way home from school?–never. They travel in packs of extra high energy, taking over all the space they can.
    I know New Yorkers have a bad reputation, but we can be quite helpful. And the food, yes!
    As to LaGuardia…could it get any worse? Well, flying in general…(K)

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    • I was unprepared for LaGuardia, I’ll admit. We arrived when it had been raining. There was a giant bright yellow tarp stretched across a large chunk of ceiling in terminal with a hose attached at the lowest point to catch and siphon off the water. There is not nearly enough seating for the flights coming in and out so everyone is packed like sardines, grabbing any bit of floor they can find. I have never seen anything like it! There were kids out on the streets coming from school but not in the subway. Maybe in Manhattan most live near enough to their school they can just walk home. Certainly that allows more visiting with friends than the subway would. Dunno. It sure was a great place. I would enjoy walking each and every street one by one. There is so much to see and take in! πŸ™‚

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      • LaGuardia is in particularly bad shape at the moment; supposedly they are working to improve it…
        New York will never be entirely seen, I think. It changes all the time, for one. I always enjoy visitors, because they always want to visit places I would never go on my own.
        I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. New Yorkers get a bad rap but we are all not bad. Living on Long Island as a small child, I remember trains and subways to be the normal way of getting around. I have been back to NYC several times and know I could never live there. But it is a wonderful place to visit. I am definitely UPSTATE!

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    • I imagine living at that pace in cramped space for any length of time would make one’s fuse short but I didn’t see much rudeness at all. My kids cried the day we left, though, and demanded to know when we would go back. I consider that a win. πŸ™‚

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  10. I’ve only been to NY once, a very long time ago when my sons were young. I remember vividly the morning we were taking the subway during rush hour and my youngest son – then 9 – became paralyzed by the crowds and frozen in front of a turnstile in panic.
    Instead of being jossled and yelled at by an impatient crowd, everyone parted around us while a man in a suit carrying a briefcase stopped, calmly showed my son where to put his token in the turnstile, and then walked away just as quickly.
    That small act of kindness has stuck with me over the years. I’m so glad to hear your experience was also a reminder of how wonderful people can be – regardless of our preconceptions πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  11. New York is awesome and so are your children. High five for teaching them manners and courtesy. I was surprised when I used the Paris Metro a few years ago. I was offered seats, luggage carried off and on – right up a set of stairs. Courtesy is infectious.

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  12. Not a fan of the subway because my brain thinks it’s just an urban cave.
    BUT! I’m a huge fan of giving up a seat to anyone who obviously needs it more than I do. Or letting older or pregnant women cut me in the restroom. And I’ve taught my kids, too. Courtesy is dying out, someone has to keep the customs going!

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    • I was just telling someone else how hard it is teaching kids good manners when there are so many examples of BAD manners all over the place. It is so helpful when others help reinforce the lessons. πŸ™‚

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  13. Love your change of heart about the subway. When I was first married in 1959 my husband and I lived on Staten Island and rode the Staten Island Ferry and the subway to get around NYC. We had come there from Mississippi and thought the subway was a wonder.

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  14. Pingback: Writing Links 6/5/17 – Where Genres Collide

  15. How strange, I can’t remember travelling on the underground when I was a child. I must have done, surely? Love the way your kids only realised that mum was right when someone else said something positive!

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  16. Hey Victo, I can see you already have enough comments here and could get along fine without on from me:)
    I apologize for not commenting sooner because your post brought back a host of memories. The reason is that I had a new, hellish bout of what they said two years ago was an ideopathic neurological enigma (last word,mine). I spent a couple of days at NMH under observation this time and now have more tests than I can remember during the next three weeks. Hence the interruption ofmy online activities.

    Anyway, I’m Chicago born and raised, but I did move to Brooklyn, NY, in the late 80s. I lived in Brooklyn for about four years and commuted to my office near Grand Central in Manhattan via subways every day. Almost all my coworkers and clients lived in Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island, or the suburbs north of NYC, which means they got to and from the city on commuter trains.

    Inevitably, one of them would ask me how I got to work. I always said I took the Subway. They: “The subway? It’s too dangerous down there.” To those who did not have the power to fire me or get me fired, I always said, “When was the last time you were on one?” “Never,” came the reply.”They’re too dangerous.” During the late 80s, NYC was generally more dangerous than now. Both above ground and under it. But I never experienced a problem. Healthwise, I stood while riding and hung on to chrome-plated poles, and yet I never had so much as a cold. I think my immune system swung into high gear amidst coughs,sneezes and outcries from the homeless.

    In exactly the same vein, our company present,with whom I had very few conversations, told me on two occasions that I was reckless and not a team player because I had vacationed in Colombia several times. Obviously, I could not challenge him directly by asking when was the last time he had been to Colombia, but it is exactly the same phenomenon: enclose yourself within boundaries that wall off the people, religions, places and activities that your mind and attitudes have deemed dangerous.

    I love your posts,

    Rich Mullen

    Liked by 1 person

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