Be Weary

by M. Lizabeth Currain

This is a cautionary tale of the subways and the subway stations–and possibly any sort of place where homeless people in NYC might dwell or stop by; like Barnes and Noble in Union Square. Seriously, I think a few might live in there.

Last night; after a delightful dinner at a Thai restaurant with Victor; I was waiting for the D train at Bryant Park. I was sitting on one of those benches reading, when this homeless man (I’m assuming this because of his lack of hygiene, dirty attire, and massive amounts of possessions in plastic bags) comes bounding over and sits next to me. He had this giant black puffy coat that he was carrying and it invaded my personal space–I felt as though he was sitting on me, which is uncomfortable, given his smell. The B train had just pulled up and he was asking me how to get to Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn. I was trying not to look at him, as I told you before, I know better than to make eye contact with the cray-crays. He smelled something awful and then started shouting to the subway conductor (is that even the correct term?) about how he needs to get to Dekalb Ave. So the conductor said, “well you better get on this train”, then smelly homeless man said something along the lines of, “aw, shit.” grabbed his plastic bag belongings and jogged towards the remaining open door. As he was doing this, I made the mistake of looking. And that’s when I saw it: his ass. His dirty, homeless ass. I don’t say this to be crude or malicious–but to be descriptive, to paint a picture for you, my dear readers. I want to you experience things as I have experienced things. You all must suffer with me.

This is not the first time that I have seen dirty, homeless ass. Once before I saw it on the downtown 6 train platform at Grand Central. He was sitting on one of those benches, with his pants halfway down his thighs, and he was scratching at his dry, patchy, dirty skin while letting his bare posterior touch the bench. People were willing sitting next to him, which I found somewhat disturbing, because he had some of his body parts out, and Xenu only knows what sort of subway vermin had attached itself to him. I have not sat on a bench on the 6 platform since. I will now, most likely never sit on a bench in on the downtown platform at Bryant Park.

The orange line (B/D/F/V) creates a nice straight (somewhat) line of stations where you don’t want to sit or touch anything. They all stop at 34th st Herald Square, which is gross in general, so I don’t really need to delve further. West 4th always has someone sitting on the stairs or holed up somewhere. My favorite is Broadyway/Lafayette. There is always the same homeless guy, sitting or laying out in the same spot. A few times I’ve thought he was dead. I’ve never really seen him do anything, like get up and walk around. He smell is permanently wafting along the platform. It’s always entertaining to see the people who want to see down, but the only seat left is sort of next to him, or behind him. His head is always tilted back, so he usually takes up about 4 available seats. I’ve seen his head actually touch the hair of some girls. I don’t think you can understand how skeeved out, I get from just seeing that. Days/weeks/months of grime are living in his hair. On a particularly hot, humid, smelly day I thought I was going to throw up in my mouth because every time a train would go by, his smell would fly all up in my nostrils.

Also, once in May of 2007, I was getting off the shuttle train at Times Square (the most heinous place on Earth), well, as I was stepping off the shuttle, I see a man with one hand up on the side of the subway car with his head down. I was a little out of sorts, because I had been up for over a day finishing a project, and I was like, “ugh, is this guy sick or something?” So I look down to what he is looking at. It was his PENIS. He was peeing on the subway car. From what I remember, his peen was small and diseased looking, he might have had an enlarged prostate–as he seemed to be having trouble relieving himself–and totally ruined the rest of my day. It almost made me cry, seriously.

I hope the next time any of you are in one of the places that I have mentioned, that you remember this cautionary blog post. I know, I know, plenty of other people sit or touch or pee on things all the time, and you can’t control who sat on or touched something before you. But it’s really in your best interest to not sit on a bench in either a Grand Central or Bryant Park subway station. Just trust me on this one.