March 20, 2010, 5:40 p.m.
Q Train – 7th Avenue to Union Square
From the entrance to the 7th Avenue subway station I can see a sliver of the Manhattan-bound Q – the train I needed to catch 25 minutes ago, when I wasn’t 25 minutes late. Its brakes are screeching but not for long. I sprint through the foyer, pass a laggard on my way to the outside turnstile, swipe cleanly, take the stairs two at a time, and nearly barrel over a nice young woman on my way into a middle car.
I need to work my way to the back of the train, closer to the 14th Street exit at Union Square. In this car, a five year old wraps his legs around the center pole and swings. He’s seven and too young to note the connection. I pop out at Atlantic, scurry to the next car, and pop back in, working my way to the other end. A large woman is blocking the path, on one side with her body, on the other with her stroller. She pays no mind. In the next car, between DeKalb and Canal, two young women have their shopping faces on beneath bagel-sized sunglasses. After Canal, one car closer to the back, a woman sleeps while holding something in a white wool blanket spotted with brown teddy bears and light pink balloons. Presumably the baby is asleep as well.
I step out at Union Square. The staircase I need is right there.