Somebody just killed themselves on the MTA train tracks in Astoria, New York City by the Broadway N Q line station near my house, and I saw firemen hosing what was left of him or her off the tracks.
Not a great great day in the city.
New York City moves at an incredibly fast pace, and living here one gets used to it. For those of us that commute daily on the subway lines we’re constantly annoyed with the ever present train delays and other issues that plague the city’s underground transportation.
We get callus. We get angry. I get angry. I was angry yesterday when it took me an hour and a half to get home from work when it should normally take only 35 minutes max.
Going home from work today started off no differently. I left work, looking forward to getting home and relaxing with my wife, but was stalled at the Union Square station.
The announcement came over station that N and Q trains were experiencing delays and would be stopping at Queensboro Plaza, three stops short of my destination. I would have to take a bus from there.
I grumbled “Sonofabitch” as I considered my options along with the rest of the soon to be Queens bound riders.
I decided I’d take the R train to Steinway Street, where I would have to walk an extra 15 minutes to get home. This is ridiculous I thought. Why can’t the trains ever run on time or work? In Hong Kong this would never happen! Why can’t the MTA ever get their shit together?
I got on the R train, pulled out my book and settled in, trying my best to put aside my annoyance at the damn MTA.
Arriving at Steinway, I started walking down Broadway towards home. I overheard somebody talking on the phone next to me. “Oh my God,” was all I heard her say. A bit further down I passed two teenagers coming the other way and heard one of them say, “somebody died…”
I could now see flashing police lights down by the station.
By this point I was curious to know what happened so I walked past my street to the station. There was crime scene tape around the subway exit, and a section of 31st Street was blocked off. I could see firemen and a fire truck down the road.
There was a policeman standing guard so I asked him what happened.
“I’m not able to discuss it.”
I asked “Did somebody get hurt?”
He shook his head, “Something like that. You’ll see it on the news tonight.”
So somebody had died. I turned around and started walking home, but took a detour through a parking lot where I could get a better look at what the firemen were doing.
That’s when I saw this.
They were hosing the tracks down, along with the street below.
That’s when it really hit me that somebody had likely taken their own life, or it was a horrible accident. Not 30 minutes before I was angry I had to get on a different train and my commute was delayed.
I suddenly felt very small, and upset with myself over getting angry about something as trivial as train delays. Somebody had died horribly, and it was right next to my house. Firemen were washing them off the tracks. Whatever was left of him or her.
I carried on home and walked up the stairs to my house. My neighbour was outside so I asked him what happened.
“Suicide. Somebody jumped on the tracks. This is the second time in 10 years I’ve seen this happen. A shame.”
I got my mail, opened my door, and kissed my wife. I wasn’t angry anymore.
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