“I’m glad I was stuck with all you guys.”

A lot of videos people shoot in the New York City subway system are pretty grim.  Riders regularly use their phones to capture fistfights, disgusting displays of personal hygiene management, blatant sexual harassment (I’m not going to link to those nasty dudes), and of course, rats. Lots and lots of rats.

The other day, however, a little miracle happened on an E train that got stuck in the tunnel, and straphanger Greg Wong captured it in a seven-minute video (seen on Gothamist) that just might restore your faith in humanity.

Wong and some 850 fellow commuters were caught in underground limbo for a full two hours as their train was stalled between stations in Manhattan due to a mechanical failure. It was a subway rider’s nightmare come to life. Eventually, they boarded a “rescue train” that took them, slowly, back to Queens, where they’d started.

But as Wong records in the video, the stranded passengers bonded during the ordeal, even sharing that most precious resource—backup battery charges for their phones. “We were grumpy at first, but what can you do?” says one laughing young woman as people eagerly plug into the chargers being passed around.

It all culminates in an epic singalong (starting around minute 3) that moves from the latest hits (“Hotline Bling”) to timeless classics (“One Love”). The musical leader is a cheery, philosophical young man who improvises lyrics to Drake’s “Hold on, We’re Going Home”:

“It’s a stuck train and you know it, I’m about as late as I can be. ’Cause it’s a stuck train and you know it, I think they may fire me.”

By the end, after a round of “Watch me whip, watch me nae nae,” everyone is in high spirits. They have survived together, and they have done it with style and grace. Anyone who has lived in New York and ridden the trains will recognize the hard-won camaraderie they share. It’s a tough city, and sometimes things get crazy, but we’re all in this thing together, and we are going to make it no matter what.

As one of the captive riders says at the video’s end, with a smile, “I’m glad I was stuck with all you guys.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    CityLab University: Induced Demand

    When traffic-clogged highways are expanded, new drivers quickly materialize to fill them. What gives? Here’s how “induced demand” works.

  2. Design

    Bringing New Life to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Designs

    “I would love to model all of Wright's work, but it is immense,” says architect David Romero. “I do not know if during all my life I will have time.”

  3. An illustration of the Memorial Day flood in Ellicott City, Maryland.
    Environment

    In a Town Shaped by Water, the River Is Winning

    Storms supercharged by climate change pose a dire threat to river towns. After two catastrophic floods, tiny Ellicott City faces a critical decision: Rebuild, or retreat?

  4. A photo of police officers sealing off trash bins prior to the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo in 2015.
    Life

    Carefully, Japan Reconsiders the Trash Can

    The near-absence of public garbage bins in cities like Tokyo is both a security measure and a reflection of a cultural aversion to littering.

  5. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.