Medical emergency: when someone gets sick or hurt on the subway, causing that train and all others behind it to freeze for at least a half hour. Also see under: ridiculous.
As much as I hate how inefficient the subway often is, and as often as I wish we had privatized transportation like other countries so we could choose whether to pay more or get worse service (in NYC, they decide for you: you get worse service AND the cost raised frequently), there’s no situation like a “medical emergency” to make me appreciate when trains are running normally.
The thing about a medical emergency is that often, it’s not. Often, it’s simply that something is going on that’s causing a train to stall, and they just call it a medical emergency. Sometimes, it really is because a passenger has fainted or is hurt, but even in those situations, in no regular, privatized business would this situation cause the entire enterprise to shut down while the one person waits for a doctor to arrive.
Anyway, ever since I was stuck in a tunnel for over 30 minutes during one such medical emergency, it’s been one of my biggest fears to become the person who causes that for thousands of New Yorkers. So, while I’ve ridden the train while sick, I’ve always been very careful not to be in a position to faint or fall or get a bloody nose.
Yesterday though, for the entire tedious ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan, I risked it. I was sick enough that I would have definitely taken a sick day if I had any, and I was so out of it that I honestly worried I’d fall asleep while standing up. I had to keep forcing myself to snap out of it, to open my eyes, to not slide to the ground.
And it worked, of course. When I put my mind to something, there’s very little that can stop me, even physical illness. I may faint, fall, or have my head explode–there is still no way I will allow myself to be the reason the entire subway line is stalled. It’s not because I’d feel so bad for the rest of the people who would be late to work, though I would; I just don’t think I could live with that amount of humiliation.