« Things Only Old Folks Know | Main | Confused »

Wednesday, 01 October 2014


By Wendl Kornfeld

On the wall of each New York City subway car is a cord which triggers the emergency brake (EB). It is to be used only under very limited circumstances because it will bring this huge fire-breathing metal monster to a halt at once.

In fact, the Metropolitan Transit Authority is so eager for you not to use the EB that the first instruction listed under it is, “Do not pull the emergency cord.”


Apparently, this means the EB should be engaged only in the event someone is stuck between the subway doors or between the cars – i.e., likely to be dragged to their death once the train starts up.

You don’t use the EB to alert the conductor about a crime in progress or illness during the voyage because if the train slams to a stop in a tunnel between stations, help cannot get to you quickly. There is a stiff fine for the EB’s abuse.

I’ve lived in New York City over 60 years and only ever saw one person pull the cord.

It was a weekday morning on the #1 downtown train. I sat across from a sleekly groomed gentleman in a business suit reading a large-format newspaper, probably the Wall Street Journal or The New York Times.

He was quite engrossed in whatever he was reading - so engrossed, in fact, that he didn’t realize he’d arrived at Times Square where he should have disembarked.

The doors closed and the train began its slow exit from the station headed towards Penn Station at which point the man stood up, seemed to look about with deep disappointment that no one had reminded him to get off at Times Square, calmly strode over to the emergency brake - and pulled it.


Now, because the cord was pulled while the train was still in the Times Square station area, the doors opened again a few moments later. Mr. Naughty Passenger calmly folded his paper, picked up his briefcase and sauntered off to his Important Day while the rest of us had to wait for the investigation to continue, our own voyage delayed as well as those on trains backed up waiting for ours to clear the station.

People whose sense of entitlement dictates that the rules don’t apply to them, who couldn’t care less what damage, inconvenience or hurt it causes others, just plain piss me off. Can you relate?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Loved it. This trouble-maker reminds me of those kids in grade school who managed to stir up the whole class while looking completely guiltless. The teacher always yelled at the others and left Mr. Innocent alone!

Absolutely. Have an unnamed relative exactly like that. Most selfish, self-centered person I have ever known.

I once was in L.A. waiting on one of those fast commuter traines to go by. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. Soon the train slipped by but the traffic protectors stayed down. We wondered why but then a second train slipped by! Later someone told me that Bill Gates ordered the commuter train to stop because he had to get by faster on his. Apparently he thought his work was more important. I don't know if it were true, but if the story is true, I would say that's a big example of self-importance!

Several years ago I was waiting in a line at the post office to mail a few packages. It had been 7 weeks since I had major pelvic surgery and the line was long and slow. I politely asked the man behind me if he would save my place in line so I could go sit down for a short time. He said "No, I won't. If you get out of line, it's just like when you were in school. You go to the end of the line." A few seconds later I realized he wasn't kidding. Still hard for me to believe. I had to leave the post office and come back later. Of course he didn't know of my physical discomfort and I didn't take time to explain. I left in tears.

Dear Maureen,
you should have told the man about your surgery!
As for the charming story - as my neighbor here in Sweden is fond of saying - "Shit happens!"
On the other hand, I might have been furious but silent, being a timid New Yorker myself - used to being pushed around.
Maybe that's why I'm happy living here in Sweden.

Dear Arlene,
I think you are right! I should have told him about my surgery. His reaction startled me so that I just didn't know what to do or say. His reaction hurt more than angered me...Thank you for your comment. My daughter visited a friend in Sweden many years ago. She loved it there! My best to you!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment