I got on the front car of an N train headed into the city, as is my wont, when I noticed a man who appeared to be both mentally disturbed and homeless at one end of the car. He was loudly grumbling to himself, and I paid him no mind, until he stood up and sat at another seat. He then stood up and sat at yet another seat, inching closer towards everybody seated at the other end of the car.
At this point I went into my classic Jamaica, Queens defensive posture, which is to pretend I don't see, hear or smell anything until I get to my destination. As the man continued moving towards the populated end of the car, the subway train stopped between stations. Now this isn't unusual, what with train traffic and the MTA's commitment to making sure trains don't work too hard. However, the conductor's door then slid open, and a very upset engineer emerged.
"What did I tell you? Stay on your side!" he screamed.
The disturbed man continued mumbling but went back to his original seat. Apparently there had been an earlier confrontation between these two, but when the man sat down the engineer warned him, "Now stay there!"
I was shocked by this. I'd never seen an MTA engineer take interest in anything that happens within a train, and I've seen fist fights, dance shows, mariachi concerts, and occasionally, all three at the same time. As the train inched towards the city, the disturbed man again started sitting in many seats. To my bewilderment, the train stopped again and the conductor's door opened.
"That's it! I warned you!" shouted the engineer.
I was a little peeved now. The engineer was going to call the police and this poor man would be harassed and arrested. Not to mention the 10 minute "police investigation" by which we'd be delayed. The disturbed man ran through the doors to the back of the train and the conductor got back in the cockpit and we were off. I figured this was the end of it. But I was wrong.
When we got to 57 and 7, the largest man I've ever seen got on the train.
Now I've never met Shaq, let alone played with him, so I guess there are larger men out there. But a man I could only describe as an actual giant, who had to bend down to both fit into the train and walk throughout it, walked on dressed in all black, the only official thing about him was "MTA" written on the back of his jacket.
"Where he at?" he roared.
I stared at him slack-jawed. The conductor's door opened again and out came the engineer with a bottle of Febreeze.
"He ran to the back!" said the engineer, and the giant lumbered out of our car towards the back of the train.
The engineer then walked to nearly every seat the disturbed man sat in and sprayed Febreeze and wiped it down. He turned to us.
"Folks, I run a clean train! No ruckuses aboard my train!" he yelled as he sprayed.
About 10 people stared in utter shock as he took about 3 minutes to wipe down all the seats and then hurriedly made his way back to the wheel.
Wow, I thought to myself. The MTA found a giant man living in the tunnels and gave him a job.
God bless him, and God bless the MTA.