I was at the W4th St station today, wondering quietly on what line the E would be running, when a D train pulled into the station. One of the MTA workers that open and close the doors had her window open, and a man approached her.
"Excuse me, what's the next stop for this train?" he asked.
The MTA worker looked at him and said, "wherever the tracks lead."
Now, this shocked me. I know for a fact that NYC trains don't just follow the tracks because they switch tracks and go Express and Local and whatnot. There are a million things these trains can do, so there was clearly an itinerary that either she didn't know or just didn't want to tell the man. The man knew this, and so he asked again.
"Where are you going next?" he asked, impatiently.
The MTA worker again responded, but this time without looking at him, "wherever the tracks go, honey."
At this point, a small crowd of similarly lost and slightly distressed people formed around the train window. As my brain started to process the hilarity of this woman's very unhelpful answer, I felt laughter form in my chest. However, I decided not to incite a riot by laughing at anybody's misfortune. Unfortunately, an older black man spoke up.
"So you just hit the gas and hope for the best, huh?" he asked sarcastically and slightly angrily.
It's at this point the laughter which I was holding in my chest exploded, sending a small breath out of my lips and tears out of my eyes. I walked away, and the train left soon after. The original man started kicking trash onto the tracks, angrily yelling about "what a bitch" that woman was.
I guess you could add this to a list of reasons why the MTA may be lacking. Construction and cutbacks have severely hampered several stations and have led to widespread confusion, and a laid off workforce has led to MTA workers who are more tired and angry than usual.
But, honestly, except for the part where people have lost money and/or time, I probably wouldn't want it any other way.