J-G-L-6 (getting to Manhattan from Brooklyn post-blizzard) : Waking up this morning was difficult. Not only is it December 27, two days after Christmas, but I knew I wasn’t going to like traveling to work after the sky decided to open up and dump feet of snow on the NYC Metro area. I peeked out my window to find every car in the lot behind my building buried under puffy white snow.
When I opened my door to trudge the usual 7 minutes to the JMZ stop at Myrtle-Broadway, I found thigh-high mounds waiting for me on the sidewalk and street. After somehow managing to get onto the train platform, a J slowly cruised into the station. The normally-express J was running local, which wasn’t a problem, until we arrived at Hewes St., just two stops from Manhattan. With the subway doors not closing, everyone began to get antsy. Finally, the conductor announced that the train directly in front of us was stuck on the Williamsburg bridge. Ten minutes passed without update. Ten more minutes ticked by. Worse news came with the next announcement – the bridge was impassable and all passengers were asked to find alternative transit. I clambered down to the street with my fellow passengers, and most of us trudged a few blocks to the Broadway G stop. Twenty minutes of waiting for the G… to only go one stop. Twelve minutes of waiting for a Manhattan-bound L. Five minutes of waiting for an uptown 6. When I emerged, Manhattan didn’t look much better than Brooklyn. Two hours and four trains later, I arrived at work.
L (the woman who collapsed on the platform) : I was making my way home late on Friday, December 17, coming from the UES going home to Brooklyn. The 4 on which I was traveling downtown arrived at Union Square around 1 AM (technically December 18), where I needed to transfer to a Brooklyn-bound L. I hurried to the track, noticing from the stairs that a train was still idling at the station. I picked up my pace as to not miss the train (few come at that hour), but much to my chagrin, every single car was packed with people. I walked along the platform to one end, searching for a space I could slide into, but no dice. I turned around and decided to walk until I met the other end of the train. As I passed the stairs I had come down I came upon a large group of people crowded around something. With headphones in, I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying, but I noticed a woman’s legs stretched out on the ground, facing downward. The crowd parted, and I saw that the woman was shaking, maybe seizing and probably unconscious, her head cradled on the lap of a young woman who looked to be in her mid-twenties. There were MTA support members there, but the young woman seemed to be taking control of the situation medically. I instantly thought of my friend Beth, who is my age and a nurse. I thought that Beth would have done the same thing, jumping into action in the real world if necessary. Calm and compassionate, yet strong and in control.
I witnessed a few things that evening that made me hopeful for the human race and alternately made my stomach turn. The young woman, who I would bet any money is in fact a nurse, was beyond brilliant. The MTA support listened to her instructions as she held the woman in place, supporting her neck and head. She calmly and kindly asked the man holding the woman’s purse and coat (who I can only assume was the fallen woman’s husband), if she had taken anything, if she had eaten anything that she could be allergic to. Many bystanders were concerned, wondering aloud if they could do anything, put a call into the paramedics, anything. Some were not so concerned, pulling out their smart phones to take video, for instance. A group of young men even hit on a young woman a few feet away from me. She was appalled, looking around after it happened to see if anyone noticed. I did, and I gave her the palms up and rolled my eyes. “I hate idiots like that,” she said.
Eventually the overcrowded train pulled away and another L arrived. As I stepped onto the train, I felt torn about leaving the face-down woman, though I was never directly involved nor do I have any medical knowledge or expertise. It just felt strange to walk away from something like that, turning my back on an emergency. The scene took quite a while to leave my mind and leave me in peace. I still think about that woman, though, and I hope she is okay.