I’m squeezed between two people, among a group of crushed together people on the 6. The train was so crowded that after one stop an older couple hopped off, just to wait for a less packed train. A few stops later, a man with a large, new black bike hopped on the subway. He pushed his bike on first, and all the passengers tried to wedge themselves further from the large object and towards the opposite doors. I saw people rolling their eyes, and heard them cursing to themselves and sighing loudly.
I happened to be positioned next to Man With Bike, so I attempted to talk to him.
“Cool bike,” I said.
Shocked, he looked at me for a bit before answering, “That’s not what I was expecting you to say.”
“At least one person on this train doesn’t hate me,” he said, looking around, aware of others’ death glares.
“If you want, you can hold onto my bike instead of the railing,” he said, noticing how I had to reach over his bike to barely grab the railing.
I steadied myself on the back wheel and thanked him for the offer.
“You know, I didn’t think the 6 would be as crowded on Sunday afternoon. I was really trying to think it through. I had to go to the Bronx to get it fixed, but I live in Midtown. My buddy suggested a shop way uptown. It took a while to get the thing fixed, but here it is. I just feel bad that I’m hogging this whole train.”
A story. A reason.
While others assumed he was inconsiderate, he was in fact a nice, talkative guy just excited to have his bike back.
“I’m getting off in a few stops, I promise,” he said. I wasn’t sure if he was saying it to himself as reassurance, to me, or to the train. Maybe all three.
As the train approached his stop, he exclaimed a bit louder than his normal talking voice, “I’m getting off here! Everyone can have their space back! I’m very sorry for the inconvenience!”
Not a single passenger looked his way. Most had headphones in and probably didn’t hear it.
“Have fun with your new bike. Don’t worry about hogging space. This is public transportation; everyone brings their baggage, big or small, literal or figurative,” I told him as he shoved his new shiny toy out the subway doors.