I have been riding New York City subways since I came here as a young man in the 1980's, so I have seen some things best forgotten.
But in the past 10 years after becoming disabled by a massive stroke, and having trouble walking, I have seen a lot more memorable events, on nearly every trip.
I ride the A train the most, from Washington Heights to the NYU area often. I have trouble walking and no feeling and little movement on my left side. As sitting to standing is problematic, and slow, I often do not take a seat when offered, especially if only a few stops (except of course in that long stretch from 125th street to Columbus circle). I usually get up and stand by the doors a stop before I have to get off to be sure I can exit easily and avoiding walking on the moving car. I know the trains in Manhattan well enough to generally know on which side the doors will open.
About two weeks ago, I was riding the C train (I think) and experienced something that all riders rightfully fear.
I was standing at the door, holding on to a pole and my cane with my right hand, ready to exit as soon as the doors opened.
When the train stopped I heard and felt the packed crowd close behind me start moving.
At the moment the doors opened, a self-important man in a suit pushed his way through, saying nothing but leaving some very angry people in his wake.
He got to the door by pushing people aside, and the next thing I knew he pushed me out the door and I fell down flat onto the platform; when I looked back I saw that my legs were still in the car. As I heard "watch the closing doors", my brain did those quick calculations that it does in sudden danger. Should I try to pull my legs out, and if the doors closed on them, how would I contort myself to avoid the wall at the end of the platform when the train started down the track. Or should I attempt to pull myself back in, risking my torso or head sticking out the doors.
I glanced up and saw a huge, mean-looking young black man, extending his meaty fist to me like a gargantuan god reaching down from the heavens. He graabbed my right arm and yanked me into the car with one huge but smooth motion. A few people around him helped get me to my feet. I felt like hugging him -- but that seemed a little weird, even for the subway.
The doors closed and I got off at the next stop.
Only in New York.