Always Make Extra Time

I already wrote here at Just Like NY about the most irritating feature of this city, which is its huge distances. That’s why I like the subway so much – if you live near a station, you’re „saved” (currently I live near three different lines, which is as close to paradise as it gets!). Thanks to the subway, you can get anywhere. Not always, though. Which is where another pain of living in a metropolis comes in. Sure, there’s the subway, but since it has millions of passengers every day and is quite old itself, it’s in constant need of repairs. What does it mean for us: millions of people depending on it running on schedule…? It means that just when you least expect it – usually when you’re in the biggest hurry – suddenly your train is: (a) running late, (b) doesn’t stop at your station today, or (c) has stopped running altogether in your neighborhood. Of course, it’s not the case every day and there are usually warnings that show up in advance, but problems still occur far too often. Mainly on the weekends.

Weekends on subway can be a true horror show. Just when you forget that it’s not middle of the week anymore and the day is actually Saturday (I guarantee that after a while you’ll stop distinguishing between days of the week here), your intricate schedule for the day ends up in smithereens.

Even if none of the above scenarios happen and you start thinking you’re off the hook this particular weekend, there are still other obstacles that can occur. For example: the train changing its route. It happened to me lately and it wasn’t funny. Once the train finally arrived and I was happy I’d get to my important appointment 40 minutes earlier, suddenly I heared a speaker announcement that was just a tad too long. A hint: the second you hear an announcement that seems to have two sentences too many, you know it’s no picnic (of course you have to be lucky enough to actually get what they’re saying, which is hard even for native speakers). My announcement said the F train was running on J schedule. My meeting was at 2 PM, so I totally freaked out and got off the train at the first possible stop. My destination was just outside Chinatown and I decided to run. Chinatown on the weekends means trouble, too. Lots of cars, wild crowds, people in a hurry just like my own. I have to admit that I’m still impressed by the feat I pulled. I was running like a gazelle, zig-zagging between people standing in my way. Not only did I arrive mere 10 minutes late: the person I was meeting came even later! „I’m sorry”, she said. „You know how trains are on the weekends.”

Those sudden changes at the subway can be a huge problem for people completely unfamiliar with New York’s topography. For someone using only one subway line every day (and there are thousands of people like that over here),  such a surprise can easily equal a heart attack. That’s why I have some golden advice for you. If you happen to have an important meeting, or you’re on your way to work: make extra time for the commute. Especially on the weekends. It’s too, a city for it to be working like a Swiss watch. And if you are not planning on turning gray within those 5 minutes you will get to suddenly think up your plan B, leave your place 30 minutes earlier than you think you should be leavining it. There’s always a chance it will make you late less than an hour.