In the subway  JAN 07 2004

Listening to NPR this morning as I struggled to regain enough of my consciousness to stumble into the shower, I heard Colson Whitehead read a selection from his new book, The Colossus of New York. In it, he described weary evening commuters vying for seats on the subway like pigeons scrapping for seed. That characterization strikes me as inaccurate. Commuters dash down stairs to catch an arm in the door before it closes and pack into already crowded cars rather than be left on the platform, but even in the busiest stations at the peak of rush hour, people don't squabble for seats like pigeons for food.

If you want to see pigeon-like behavior, watch instead the tide of evening commuters racing to spin through the turnstiles at Times Square/42nd Street, swerving around confused tourists, colliding, dancing from turnstile to turnstile, searching for the fastest way past the fumbling metrotards and exiting passengers shooting out of the station into the chaos.

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