I am not the biggest fan of NYC public transportation but the train isn’t all that bad during the day traveling into Manhattan. “People watching” is sort of fun and there’s always someone to laugh at begging for money or some person nodding off and waking up in between stops almost breaking their necks.
I thought I’d break up the monotony of running down my thoughts with just a story about an experience on public transpo one day as I ventured into the city.

Let me preface this by saying I don’t believe in colds or sickness. I view the sniffles, sneezing and sore throats as things that warn you to take some vitamin C, Theraflu or some type of immune system booster if need be. So the day I was on the train and a sneeze came out I thought nothing of it.
My earphones were in, aviator shades were on, 3 chains hanging outside of my jacket, just a typical day you know?

Anyway I got a seat, and it was a two-seater seat for the old or handicapped but I was all to myself. I was riding in comfort AND style then all of a sudden I felt a slight tickle in my nostril region and what do you know?
A big ass sneeze hits me. There was no discharge and I covered my mouth in time. Then I heard a “bless you” from a kind lady that looked like somebody’s sweet auntie. I throw back a “thank you” she says “you’re welcome” and we’re both feeling polite and New Yorker friendly although we’re hoping that the sneeze cycle is over.

Until…I feel another one coming on. This must be an allergic reaction to someone’s fragrance or fabric, ‘I can’t be catching a cold,’ I think to myself.
Next thing I know 2 sneezes in succession and the 2 “bless you’s” from Auntie Lady are a little louder as if to say ‘that’s the last one you’re getting buddy.’ Now we’re both uncomfortable because I don’t want to put anymore blessing pressure on her and I’m sure she’s not in the mood to be dishing ‘em out for the next 12 stops when clearly there are others around that can add some healing words.
That’s the bad thing about saying “bless you” because you never know how long that person will be sneezing and if you discontinue sending them God’s graces then it’s actually worse than never saying it at all.

So I’m thinking maybe I should just go to another train car or better yet I’ll just mind control these attacks and stop ’em. Yea! That’s what I’ll do, I got this. I’m not going to bug her and spread germs and be one of those annoying people that just….wait….oh my goodness, another “achoo!” right in mid-sentence thought.

Auntie Lady has abandoned her blessing duty and pretended she’s looking for something in her purse. Everyone else is looking but really not looking and hoping I’m getting off soon. As I search every pocket on me for tissue in panic mode because I feel moisture forming above my lip, I use the back of my hand to slightly pat my nose area hoping I find something to stop the disaster ahead of me. Right front pocket…left back pocket…right back pocket…left front pocket…jacket pocket…inside pocket, maybe I can use my sleeve. Repeat process, this can’t be happening!

I thought about using a dollar bill and then throwing it on the ground to help my situation and look rich simultaneously. But I didn’t even have any cash on me and wiping my nose with a dead president isn’t exactly making it rain. One last sneeze erupts loudly and now we have a problem. The mucus meant to remain inside the nose has somehow leaked and landed on the outside with nothing to remove it in a sanitary or proper manner. All I can do is cover that area with the back of my hand and search all pockets again with the hopes some caring citizen donates a napkin.
Should I ask someone? They’re all busy. No eye contact. Not even this guy with the subway sandwich eating sloppily with 83 napkins in his hand as if he just grabbed extra so he could store them in his pocket for a day like the one I’m having. Now he just dropped a stack…and stepped on them. He’s doing this on purpose isn’t he? That bastard. Damn you Subway guy! Auntie Lady might have tissue but she’s reading like she’s deep into that Danielle Steele book and when did she put her Ipod on? What the hell could she be listening to? Now she’s leaving. Damn. I can ride like this for 25 minutes can’t I? Man as long as I don’t see anyone I know I’m good.

2 stops passed and I was seemingly clear until I saw someone that halfway looked like some girl I might have maybe known in the 8th grade. ‘I’m not taking any chances.’ I jumped off the train and asked the Arabic man at the newsstand for a tissue or 2. He said no and said he only had packs of tissues for sale. They were like $2 and I asked him to just take 2 out for 50cents(in my Chris Rock voice) but he was firm with his decision to get the full price. He didn’t take debit and I started to beg sort of as more customers walked up.
So now I’m Snotty Pippen still covering my nose with my hand with people behind me waiting in line and pointing, no cash to remedy the problem and no good Samaritans around.
Then the newsstand man asked me to move my hand so he could see. I obliged and the sight of the mucus seemed to warm the Grinch’s heart as he laughed, said some Arabic phrase that I don’t think was a blessing then handed me a pack of tissue to keep for free and I wiped away my sorrows.

Ironically I didn’t sneeze again for 4 years. That’s when that story took place and yesterday I reached in my jacket and felt a pack of tiny Kleenex tissues and wondered what I was doing with these girly things in my pocket…I don’t use tissues I use rough paper towels, party fliers, sandpaper even…then I remembered, the train!
You made it this far, might as well leave a comment, it makes a difference… -The Present


  1. Carlos Luna says:

    Oh man, I can relate to that feeling. Had that happen to me on several occassions but idk if on a train. Buses, class, just out walking about and family gatherings and every time more embarrassing than the last. Having allergies is horrible and sickness makes it all the more enjoyable.


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