Even if it’s 6’6" (for goodness’ sake, sit down so we can see where your head is!)
At a towering 6 feet 6 inches, Jay H. Walder, the new chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, barely fit beneath the ceiling of the Main Street Station in Flushing, Queens, the last stop on the No. 7 line, where he arrived on Monday morning to greet commuters as part of his first day in one of the state’s most high-pressure jobs.
The theme of Monday’s photo-op – new boss meets his constituents – didn’t quite fit either. Mr. Walder tried a couple of different corners of the station, the busiest outside of Manhattan, but the harried commuters rushed by, ignoring the swarm of cameras following the tall man’s every move.
Tons and tons of political types, and those proffering flyers/stickers/cards/posters/handshakes/almscups on their behalf, lurked in and around my subway stations this election season. And it is OBNOXIOUS. There is no way a commuter heading to the train is going to take the time to do more than snatch a handout or maybe, if you’re lucky, make periphery personal-security-establishing eye contact. Don’t talk to me, and definitely don’t step in front of me right as I’m bending my knee to take that first step down the stairs**.
One aspiring councilsomething once decided to defeat this by standing inside the turnstiles – ostensibly if you’ve made it to the platform and there’s no train, you’ll be more willing to stand there and talk neighborhood recycling policy. Until the express train – WHOOObocketbocketbocketOOOOOSH or the local on the opposite plat– WHOOOOSHCREEEEEECHdingdongSCREEEECHWHOOOOOSH -form goes by. Or the train they’re waiting for pulls in and the councilsomthing is immediately torn limb from limb in the mad dash to get off the train, get on the train, stand just inside the doors vacantly, shove the person in front of you who’s staring, glare at the guy who thinks your butt is a handrail, elbow the moron with the backpack and at the last second grudgingly yield the seat you just killed for to the decrepit granny who looks like she might not survive the ride but still took the time to collect every single leaflet and rally invite on her way in.
Um, the moral of the story is…. if you are looking to get your face out there, take out an ad like Dr. Z or invite people to your house (via the internet, radio, TV or stupid mailer they will throw away) and give them cookies.
Do not attempt to reach out and touch space anywhere near the NYC MTA.
** A word about these stairs – two sets of stairs down into the R stop nearest me, one uptown and one downtown, were recently walled off from June through mid-September. Initially the project had an "end date" of June 30th, which was soon adorned with such witticisms as "When pigs fly" and "Never" and "yeah right" and similar skepticism. Sometimes there were workers swarming about, other times it was totally deserved at all times of day. We heard mutters of "they’re putting in a drain" or "refurbishing the step surfaces" or "What a bunch of jackasses, why did it just take me 10 minutes to climb those steps?"
Finally the New and Improved staircases were revealed, a mere 2.5 months late. The additions? What were formerly 20 or so steps directly up to the surface are now 24 steps up and…three steps back down to street level. There are new railings to accommodate the totally unnecessary platform now at the top of the flight, and most charmingly of all, there is perpetually a giant puddle at the base of one of the "fixed" stairs. It is now even less handicapped/stroller accessible, if such a thing were possible.
Job well done, MTA.