Thursday, August 18, 2011

I alerted the station master and police that a passenger fell on the tracks

Never Done: I alerted the station master and police that a passenger fell on the tracks

First of all, he was OK. Second of all, every single person In the situation acted well. Here's my version of the story. I went to the doctor on my lunch break. At the end of our appointment, she asked if it was OK to draw blood so she could send a comprehensive set of labs to a hematologist. Despite the fact that I just had blood drawn 8 days ago (I hate having blood drawn) I said yes. (Little did I know that she was going to take 9 tubes.) So I came out of the there a little wobbly. I didn't go right back to my office, but sat in the doctor's waiting room for about ten minutes til I felt unwobbly.

When I got off the train at 72nd Street, I was pretty solid, but still cautious. As I made my way up the stairs, I heard someone screaming in a repetitive way. I dashed back down and saw that someone had fallen on the tracks. I dashed back up and told the station manager that someone had fallen on the tracks. He immediately ran out of his booth and down to the platform, while I called the police. My conversation with the police was riddled with miscommunication: 911, what's the emergency. Someone fell on the subway tracks at the 72nd Street 1 train. What borough?

Why don't they say, 911, what borough? Once we had worked our way through the questions she had for me before I got to tell her that someone had fallen on the tracks, she said to me, "But there's no train in the station." it sounded like she was arguing with me about the importance of the call. I assumed she had access to an interactive map of trains and could see that the closest southbound 1 train was at 103rd or something. But it turned out that she was asking me, "But there's no train in the station?" By the time I finally understood that, I also saw that some passengers had pulled the man off the tracks, and that the station master was accompanying him upstairs, and that he was blind.

The station master called his direct line to the police, and I heard him say that he wanted the gentleman to get medical attention, that it was hot down there, that it had been quite a fall. That's what he called him -- a gentleman. It was very respectful. I took a look at the man who had fallen. He couldn't see. I don't know if he had a cane before he fell, but he didn't have one now. The station master asked him if it was OK if he would sit on the floor -- again, respectful.

At this point, I had forgotten that I had been wobbly, and then I remembered again, and then I realized that it was time to go back to work. All of that at once. And when I stepped outside of the station, I felt as if I was leaving something precious behind -- a little trauma zone, where we had all acted quickly and in unity. A zone with clearly defined borders -- which once I stepped away from, no-one would understand where I had just been. And it was true. Once I was out on the street, I was no longer part of a bonded group of people. I was the one drop of red dye who was quickly dissipating into an entire stream. I tried to look at the other people with the awareness that they were also little red drops, who had just come from their own bonded world. Because that has to be true, right? Even if they didn't just come from a heightened emergency? And if I could remember that, then maybe I wouldn't feel so dissipated all the time, because really, I'm in the same stream with all the other drops. Right?

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