Sarah Goodyear is a Brooklyn-based contributing writer to CityLab. She's written about cities for a variety of publications, including Grist and Streetsblog.
“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.”