Romance on the rails in New York City…



The train tracks weren’t the only thing that was flooded. (Photo: Meira Rosenberg)

On my way to New York City to meet a friend for a drink at the legendary Algonquin Hotel on Wednesday night. I was vaguely aware that my cellphone had oinked a flash flood warning a few hours earlier while I was at Beinecke Archives. And of course I was aware that the copious amounts of rain had poured on the region all day. Nevertheless, I persisted. I boarded the North Metro Line at New Haven, bound for Grand Central station.

A postponed pleasure…

We got as far as Fairfield, a half-a-dozen stops down the line. The train halted. The tracks were flooded. The conductor made the announcement that people disembarking at Fairfield should move to the front of the train, which had reached the platform, while the rest was trapped. Otherwise, the passengers would have to wait. A man and a woman at the doors in our car debated whether they should continuing waiting for the train to pull forward. He asked her if she was Irish, because she had an Irish accent. She was clearly flattered, but announced she was born and bred in the U.S.A. They began to chat, discussing Tolstoy, Austen (“way ahead of her time,” she said), guessing each others’ ages (he is 25; she guessed it “on the nose,” he said). She wanted to make it clear that she was thoroughly modern and up to date. He said he was Catholic. Was she? No, she would never be such a thing. At least he wasn’t the kind who thought all those backwards things, was he? Yes, he said, he rather was. They continued chatting. She kept tossing her mane of red-gold hair, and swinging her hips. He was smiling. She said he was “sassy.” He said he’d never been called that before, but he thought she was sassy. And she was.

The train wasn’t moving. The loudspeaker updated us on the delays, the need to contact headquarters in New York to find out what to do. Eventually, it was announced, they had gotten clearance for an elaborate plan to back up the train, and run it along another track that wasn’t flooded. The train staff seemed agitated by this maneuver. Would I be at Grand Central by 8 p.m. at least? The staff predicted not.

I am a Californian. I’ve been in national emergencies with earthquakes, floods, wildfires. When people begin acting like this, it’s often a prelude to hours of delays, overcrowded bathrooms, emergency phone calls, unexpected plans to stay overnight somewhere you hadn’t planned, and sometimes a prime spot on the evening news.

I had a feeling all that predicament would suit this young man and woman at the doors just fine. I said a little prayer for them, headed for the front of the train, hopped off, and onto a train headed in the opposite direction, that was just closing its doors to go back to New Haven.

2 Responses to “Romance on the rails in New York City…”

  1. George Says:

    That always makes for the best eavesdropping. How good of them to flirt in front of you, rather than behind where you’d have had to imagine their appearance or make it obvious that you were looking.

  2. Cynthia Haven Says:

    I agree, George!