NYC, workplace

A Story About Slowing Down: My Subway Incident, a Lucky Escape and 10 Minutes Lost

Last week I had a subway incident.

It was embarrassing, dangerous and entirely unnecessary. In hindsight I still feel like an idiot, but mostly I feel very very lucky. A few seconds or centimeters either way and, well you’ll see.

I’ll tell you how events unfolded, and then can only hope you agree with me when I say… we all just need to slow down.

I was on the local 6 train heading uptown to work. Around 11am. I’d delivered on the morning’s deadlines at home, and was set for a low-key day at the office; no meetings scheduled, no conference calls to get to, no urgent requests from colleagues.

And yet, I chose to switch from my comfortable local 6 train and dash across the platform mid-journey to catch the express train. It was just there, and it would save me 10 minutes.

That’s right, 10 minutes.

So, a little late to the chase due to relaxed daydreaming, I made across the 14th Street platform at full-pelt.

Usually, my 5 meter dash and giant leap from platform to carriage results with the doors closing milliseconds behind me, a wry smirk and a triumphant swoosh of hair. This time, I was met with sliding doors.

In that fraction of a second where you have to make the decision, I committed. I leapt and, mid-flight, flung my arm into the disappearing space between the automatic doors.

“I made it!” Or so I thought, as the doors snapped around my forearm. Ouch. But as they began to close on my arm, again and again, there was no carriage opening for my leaping foot to land, so it slid directly into… the gap.

That’s right, I’m British and I didn’t mind the gap.

As it turns out I am the perfect size for the gap. With my arm being battered by closing doors as I slid down into the 6 inch space between train and platform toward the tracks, I found myself with one leg thigh-deep and centimeters away from a soon to be moving train, with my other knee sprawled and bloodied on the platform.

Did I say 10 minutes?

I locked eyes with the passengers through the still-sliding doors as I slipped down in slow motion. I watched as their faces turned from annoyance (“who is this girl holding up the train?”) to sheer panic (“oh, shit we’re going to watch her leg being ripped off.”)

None of them, however, moved to hold the sliding doors from the relentless battering.

To be fair this all lasted less than 15 seconds. While I hadn’t displayed it in the moments before, I am fairly agile. I wriggled my foot free from the abyss and pulled my leg, scraping up the side of the train, up from the gap.

And off the train went. A cool 2 seconds later.

Another local 6 train came in 1 minute, I got on and made my way to work with a slight limp, dirty jeans and a dampened ego.

I laughed it off, as you do. But I haven’t quite been able to shake it off. The ‘what if’ scenario bothers me. It bothers me because I had no reason to rush, none whatsoever.

It was just pure impatience, opportunism; in a bid to get to the office 10 minutes earlier, I was pretty close to becoming another statistic.

You may think I’m being dramatic. Perhaps you’re right. But I’m taking this as a lesson to slow down.

I hate being late and I hate being inefficient. When you put those two things together and place it in front of a subway switch opportunity, instinct takes over. No longer; it’s against my nature but I will try and pause more. In all aspects of life. Before the subway incident I’d already started to take time out to to read a little, write a little more, to stare at my phone a little less. It’s important but, you know… stuff gets in the way.

I’m going to try harder, and I’d encourage you to do the same…we should all be more aware of the gaps.

Let the train go. Slow the fuck down.