In early February I’d had a typically great lunch with my father. It consisted of the best Lobster Roll to be found in this city (Mary’s Fish Camp) then I accompanied him to a tailor that specializes in fixing torn leather in the Murray Hill area. We even saw Samantha Bee from the Daily Show who came to pick up an item there. My Pops, being as gregarious as he is and acting as he does, joked with everyone in the place.
We said our goodbyes and I headed to the 28th St. subway stop for the 6 train downtown. I walked down the platform a bit, stopped near the entrance and leaned on a pillar and cracked my biography of Houdini that I was reading at the time.
I never stand near the edge of subway platforms. I lean. For some reason it makes me think it would be harder to be pushed onto the tracks if I lean on something. I think it has to do with my fear of ledges. I have no problem with heights so long as I can touch three points of contact. Feet down and hand just touching some other contact point… it doesn’t even need to be holding onto it. When I’ve looked at the video of when I bungee jumped 440 feet, I’m standing on the little jump gangplank suspended over a huge chasm and I have one arm extended and the tips of 2 fingers barely touching the platform behind me. I don’t know why but the tripod of touch keeps the fear away.
I was engrossed in reading about Houdini’s handcuff escapes when I hear someone cry, “Help Me!”
I look up from my book and across the tracks and could see a woman who had fallen off the platform and onto the tracks.
You could feel everyone freeze for a moment, suspended in their bewilderment of what was happening in front of them. I found myself wondering for a moment why she wasn’t standing up to climb out of the tracks as she continued to yell for help.
It was then that I noticed her wheelchair beside her on the tracks.
When she cried out again in a more plaintive wail it broke the spell that everyone had been under. About 10 men from her side and 5 from mine jumped down and started running across 4 sets of tracks and 3rd rails to help her out.
I ran over to the useless MTA worker in the token booth on our side.
“There is a lady on the tracks!” I yelled.
“There is woman in a wheelchair that fell on the tracks and is in trouble!”
This continued for a moment and by the time I got her to understand what was happening on the other side of the tracks and to even start to comprehend that maybe, just maybe doing something about it was in her job description, the men on the other side of the tracks had been able to help the woman and her wheelchair up and onto the platform.
She was hysterical and people from her side of the station tried to help her and calm her. Some wiped the dirt from her face, one man held her in a hug as huge wracking sobs came from her. Someone from our side yelled across that an ambulance had been called and should be there soon.
It was then that my train came and I got on to go home.
I thought about it later… and even looked for any accounts on the news. I half expected to see it on the local news at 5 because this was a few weeks after Wesley Autrey, “The Subway Hero” did his thing and jumped onto the tracks to save a man’s life. I found myself happy that it didn’t.