someone jumped in front of the 7 train i was riding the other day in the middle of the afternoon. i knew something was off when we arrived at the station. the train was moving noticeably more slowly. many of people on the platform were looking at the end of the platform, usually everyone is looking straight at the train waiting for the doors to open. when the train stopped, the doors didn’t open. a minute later the train shut down and the conductor said there had been an incident. anyone who’s lived in NY long enough knows that “incident” is a euphemism for suicide. a couple of minutes later an MTA police officer walked by in a hurry. a couple minutes after that the conductor came out of his closet (i was in the first car), and his walkie talkie said “there was a jumper”. the conductor opened one half of a set of doors and exited the train. we followed shuffling out at what would normally be the beginning of the platform only to see we were just further than halfway in the station.
it left me stunned and heavyhearted. i feel empathetic for the conductor who witnessed the man jumping in front of the train he was driving. what a horror.
the next day i saw this blurb “when do you really become a new yorker?” most of the commenters say 10 years. while i grew up in texas as a displaced new yorker, i’ve only lived in new york 2 1/2 years. but in those 2 1/2 years, i’ve become a new yorker. i’ve survived a nasty break up, had bed bugs and moved 7 times. (3 manhattan addresses, 3 brooklyn addresses, and a queens address…plus a week on a friend’s couch.) i spent a summer relearning how to walk after damaging my ligaments so severely, it was the worst injury the physical therapist’s office had seen all year. now i can add the train incident to the list. but does it matter how other people or i judge my new yorkerness? maybe because i’m not jaded or totally nuts, i’m not yet a new yorker?
i was talking to someone i see from time to time who sweeps the sidewalk around grand central. he told me when he was 5 or 6 growing up in brooklyn, he saw someone push another person off the platform into an oncoming train. there was a program for troubled youth that sent him upstate to work on a farm for a week to help him. while there, he saw someone stab someone else to death. i mean, where does it end? he also told me that the same day someone jumped in front of the 7 i was riding, another person jumped in front of the 4 at grand central. statistically, the suicide by train only happens twice a week.
i have another friend who sends me quotes morning via text. the morning after the 7 train “incident” this is the quote he sent:
“you can come out of the furnace of trouble two ways: if you let it consume you, you come out a cinder; but there is a kind of metal which refuses to be consumed, and comes out a star.” jean church
new york has at times been challenging. sort of an understatement, really. it has made my appreciation for life more rich and deep than before. (and made me less tolerant of people who whine and complain about things that aren’t such a big deal…i have to remember everyone has their own struggle.) i think that because i can appreciate it and not let troubles destroy me, i’ll be alright. i may even be blindingly lustrous and sparkly when the journey is over.