Being born and raised in NYC made it inevitable of my daily encounter with the crowded trains, known throughout the world, to get to places. For me, it was mainly for school. One day, just like any, I was going home late because I had stayed after school for a club meeting. At that moment, I was in Times Square sitting in a two sitter at the end of one of the train cars while I waited for the 7 train to depart. Despite how impatient I was, I had gotten used to this routine because Times Square was the last stop for the 7 train line so waiting awhile was an often occurrence.
In the two sitter, I sat on the side with the pole and closest to the door, while I took out a book to pass time. A few minutes later an Asian man entered the car and placed his bag on the floor, sitting in next to me. I looked up to see the car barely filled with passengers, leaving many seats empty. Usually when many seats were available people would usually sit where there no one else was next to them yet.
However, I dismissed the weird feeling that I felt, thinking I was overreacting from something small. I decided to continue read when the man next to me spoke in a heavy accented voice. “Is this train going to Flushing?” I looked up, blinking several times until I registered what he had said. I nodded my head when I finally understood and he thanked me in response. I went back to my book when not a second later the man offers me gum.
I politely refused but he adamantly insisted, so I took it and placed it in my bag. Once again I went back to book, when the train finally began to get ready to leave the station. I was known for my small body form where I was often described as petite. So, I well knew that when people sat next to me, there was often extra space between us because I didn’t take up the whole seat.
However, I couldn’t help realized that the mans elbow was jabbing into the side of my chest, right against my breast. I just moved closer to the pole with the extra space I had but there was no difference. I glanced at the man beside and saw that he had an average males body and it wasn’t possible for him to be so tight against me, especially because I was thinner than most.
I slightly pushed back, hinting him to move and give me space but I felt the pressure increase. I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable not knowing if it was honestly because we were lacking space or was this man really trying to feel me up. Me, being the type who didn’t like to deal with unnecessary uncomfortable situations got up after the next few stops and just stood at the other end of the train car leaning against one of the doors.
I was hesitant to get up at first because I knew how people felt often when someone gets up from their seat even though its not their stop. It makes some people feel insecure as if you’re saying they smell or their fat which is why you don’t want to sit next to them. Was I right in what I did? Should I have gotten up or was I over thinking it?
I had asked my mom that day and she said I shouldn’t have because the man could have minded. He may have not meant it she explained, saying that when people sit on the seats on the subways, it gets very tightly packed with everyone against each other. I knew from experience when she said that, knowing that people ended up touching because of how crowded the trains got.
However, another day I was once again going home late after a musical performance that resulted me in having on quite a lot of makeup on my face. I wasn’t able to take it off before I left, but I was still recognizable. Again I was waiting in the Times Square station for the train to depart when that very same man entered the car. He did the very same thing he had done before, taking the seat next to me despite the many empty seats throughout the car. Then the man asked “Does this train go to Flushing?” I replied yes, feeling a sense of deja vu. The second I saw him take his pack of gum out, I walked out of the train car and went into a different one. While I walked out I saw his face of confusion but was I right once again for walking away? Did I do well in avoiding an unpleasant experience or was I still overreacting?
I like to think that what I did was completely fine. Yes, maybe he had a mental condition or forgot easily but maybe the alarms ringing off in my mind were right. Even if they weren’t, why deal with that feeling of uncomfortable and uncertainty feeling for a half hour ride home. I chose to go comfortably and I think I was smart in doing it but maybe you think I should stop over thinking too much. After all, I have too admit that I’m overly cautious than most.
One thing you do learn is how immensely crowded the trains get where your body is often touching several other strangers while you lean on one another for support and realize that you should begin to be aware of when you’re being touched because the other can’t help it or because they’re assaulting you. I felt off because there was no need for that man at that moment to have any contact with my body because the car was basically empty but then again who knows what that man was thinking.