Be Careful During Your Morning Commute

Each day that I wake up I lay in bed and prepare myself for the day ahead by listing of all the tasks that I must complete by the day’s end. After organizing my time around assignments, household responsibilities, as well as making time for myself/ my needs I prepare myself for my train ride to school. I know you must be thinking, who needs to prepare themselves for their train ride, there’s nothing to it? Well that’s where you are wrong and you don’t even know it. Train rides are one of the most unpredictable aspects of life that can either make or break your day.

Most people aren’t aware how dangerous train rides can be because everyone walks around with their ear buds in their ears, with the intention of blocking out the world. In my experience I find that in order to have a safer and more productive commute, using headphones to drown out the world around you is ineffective. The best way to deal with the morning commute is to be aware of your surroundings, and be ready to react if necessary.

While I’m on the train, I like many other people, am guilty of listening to my music loudly to ignore others on many occasions. Recently I’ve noticed how dangerous it is to be on the train with my headphones on full blast. A few summers ago I was running a few errands and I decided to catch the three train so I could get to my destination quickly. During my train ride a man came and sat across from me and stared intently at me, but because I had my headphones in I paid him no mind. I felt a bit uneasy because I was in the train car alone with him but since my stop was coming up I didn’t fret too much. After a few minutes I decided to look up and get a good look at the man sitting across from me. He had a strange look in his eye, and he struck me as a person who may be going through a rough time. On his wrist I noticed a band that appeared to be from a medical center, and I also saw that his clothes were shabby and unkempt. After looking him over briefly I went back to playing with my iPod, and before I knew it I had arrived at my destination. I got off the train, and never thought twice about the man who sat across from me until I saw him again.

A few days later I was on the two train going to Flatbush and the same man got on the train, in the exact same outfit. To my surprise as soon as everyone saw him people either started running out of the train car, or moving as far away from the man as physically possible . I thought maybe he smelled bad, but since I was listening to my music I once again paid him no mind. An older woman tapped me and told me that this man, that I had sat across from and ignored a few days prior, was actually mentally ill. Not only was he mentally ill, he liked to fondle himself on the train, and once he was finished, he would wipe his ejaculation onto other people surrounding him. I was shocked at my own insolence, that I sat across from a man who appeared to be mentally challenged, but because I was too busy listening to my music and ignoring him, I didn’t pay attention to the cues in my surroundings.

I share this story with you because I want to explain how dangerous train rides can be when we do not pay attention to the world around us. This man who I sat across from was ill, and I was too caught up in my music to realize that I was in a bad position. It was by the grace of God that I was not assaulted by this man while being in a train car alone with him, and I am so grateful that the situation worked out in my favor. After this incident I decided to find other ways to occupy my time on the train. If I do decide to listen to my music, the volume is low enough that I can hear people around me. At other times I will complete assigned readings, so that my mind is occupied, and I can still be cognizant of what’s going on around me.

Paying attention to the world around us has become more of an option than a necessity, and I want people to know that they are doing themselves a great disservice by distancing themselves from the real world. By ignoring the people and the world around you, you are not preparing yourself for danger than can occur at the slightest moment. Instead of trying to drown out the world, embrace the universe, deal with the people or aliens that inhabit it even if they are unpleasant, but just stay safe and don’t allow yourself to fall victim to others. Listening to music on the train is a great way to pass the time, but it’s also a great way to put yourself in danger during your commute. My advice to all people who use the train as their main form of transportation is to be aware, be smart and most of all be careful during your morning commute.

Union Square Park

When I was around the age of six, I picked out my very first favorite place in Manhattan. It was the first time that I can recall myself creating an instinctual memory of a place; that I knew how to get there from home and what it was called. It wasn’t so much of the architecture that made me like the space so greatly, it was this feeling of the surroundings; like everyone was important and we were all connected. Bias of race, gender, or culture played an inferior role in this particular environment; in fact, New Yorker’s differences were highly embraced and even emphasized. To my young mind the place was my own version of kid-heaven; pets, books, music, diverse cuisine, and other shops were all within walking distance from each other; it was fun, challenging, and I always went home with something new. Although I would loudly and quickly state that my architectural taste has gotten more refined from my childhood, somehow I always find myself in my old favorite spot, Union Square.

The origin of the name, “Union Square”, comes from the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811. Which was a very detailed plan of the roads, streets, and avenues of Manhattan that we still use today. The plan was completed with the help of John Randel, a surveyor, who joined the project in June of 1808 and worked on the development for the next thirteen years. Throughout the years of observation, the creators of this plan coined the name by explaining the intersection of Broadway and Fourth Avenue (previously known as Bloomingdale Road and Bowery Road) which creates an irregular square that no one wanted to build upon so it was decided to make the space a public park. The area was then utilized for social assemblies and trading. The space was formerly called “Potter’s Field” and was later changed to better fit the social aspect of the area; making a union between both roads and people.

The Union Square Park that we know of, officially opened on July 19, 1839; the roads paved, paths created for foot traffic, and the landscape planted to suit the people.

By the 1870’s the Ladies’ Mile shopping district began to form which was a term to describe the long strip of commerce, art, and theater that lined the streets from Union Square Park to Madison Square Park that is on 23rd street (which I mentioned in a past post for the Flatiron Building that resides juxtaposed the Park).

Throughout history Union Square became a meeting space for people to voice their opinion; whether it be in the form of a speech, protest, or gathering. This is the place that people met with each other to show support and respect. In 1861 about two hundred-fifty thousand people gathered on the Square to show their respect after the fall of Fort Sumter (notable Civil War sea fort); this would be the largest gathering of its time. This aesthetic didn’t depart from New York approach. After 9/11, New Yorkers gathered here in response to the crisis; it showed a large caliber of support and condolences; for some time, it was known as a grieving area.

As I walk through Union Square Park now, I still feel the same vibe that I fell in love with as a child. Music, dance, and other artistic performances taking place on the regular; almost as if something is always happening and if you don’t experience it, you are destined to feel an acute absence of what could have been seen, felt, and cherished.

Morphous by Lionel Smit. A South African sculptor who got his piece to be displayed in Union Square from June 13, 2016 to April 30, 2017.

This Sculpture was made with bronze like the Statue of Liberty.