Aaron vs. Public Transportation
This is not a love/hate relationship I'm in: Emotion has nothing to do with it. This is S&M, plain and simple. I, like many others in the vice-tight grip of the dystopic MTA, am a submissive; I smile as police interrogate me; I laugh when trains reschedule and delay with capricious delight; I contort myself into sardine tubes and jockey for position; and yes, I pay for this abuse. I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. I can't.
That said, I look for ways to bite back. I rip that MetroCard through the reader, I punch through the turnstile, and I ram myself against the doors. And all the while I'm conscious of saving money (i.e. taking the bus so as to be able to transfer for a train within two hours), all the while, I'm thinking of ways to take that Card and shove it. It's a pretty passive resistance, but how else to deal with the illusory practices of the MTA.
Case in point: the MetroCard. Tokens used to be art; intricate and beautiful, they combined form and function. Ah, listen to me, gushing like some combination of Art History major and schoolgirl. Now we have these ugly plasticine devices that no doubt have conveniences for the ninja (no coins jingling means extra stealth), and moreso allow the MTA to sinisterly monitor our use (or abuse) of the sytem. And what they've done is to adapt the economic policies of this country, focusing their reparational attentions on the big hubs rather than the unsightly stations and train lines that the majority don't populate. Don't be fooled by the Wonkian design: this MetroCard is no golden ticket. It will get you where you're going, eventually, but it'll cut corners and punish you at every turn. On second thought: perhaps not so different from the Chocolate Factory, from which children fall down disposal chutes or are pumped through chocolate funnels.
Point the second: the Price. I'd never really paid attention to it until I started working a regular midtown job, but $2 dollars a ride is the kind of extortion that chips away at you, like acid-reflux or one of those other livable illnesses. Still, that's not infuriating so much as the Unlimited scam, for which you'll pay $27 or $76 for a week- or month-long pass. Consider how much these rates are inflated by how much you'd pay normally: you get a special rate of six rides for every $10 spent, so you'd need to ride 14 times to get your money back over the week. That's also assuming you don't lose the card: while it's not designed to be lost (like the iPod "Pico"), accidents do happen. And yet, if you're addicted to travel and keep your wallet tight (and your MetroCard tighter), I guess it's okay. Still, look at all the people lost and confused (no, not tourists). "Where are you going?" I'll ask, and they'll just scowl and walk away, or maybe reply, their eyes dulled with the subterranean glare, "Anywhere. Anywhere but here."
Which is interesting: to get where we want, we must be where we least desire to be, most notably during rush hour. Now, we don't have it as bad as Japan (where pedophiles justify their existence) and we're far more efficient than Russia, cheaper than London and open later than our US counterparts, but man, we don't live there. We live here, and we should really only shit in our own backyards. Anywhere else would just be rude.
One final thought though: despite the supplicant population of transients (our modern boxcar residents); despite the tactless graffiti (I guess the real artists of the street have been hired); despite the tumultuous passage of this metallic phallus through the vaginal underbelly of the city (thanks Freud); it's better than taking a cab. (Marginally relevant anecdote: I've only ever been hit by a car while in a cab. BY another cab. I guess you could say it was a auto-erotic moment, cab-on-cab action.) And, lest I shit all over those yellow bugs, my emergency egress, at least it's not a Pedi-Cab. Because for all the gouging of the MTA, at least they're practical. And God, despite what you may have heard, hates the ridiculous.