What I Saw On The New York Subway Restored My Faith In Humanity


The subway doors kept closing and opening, closing and opening. Twice, the voice on the intercom repeated, “Step away from the doors.” The third time the doors opened, it was because someone’s backpack was in the way. I rolled my eyes. Let’s go already, I thought, ready to be home after a long day at work. Also, I was starving, and I’m always a worse version of myself when my stomach is empty.

A lady in a blue dress stepped onto the train. She wouldn’t have made it had it not been for the backpack and the two previous opening-and-closing episodes.

“Somebody better give her a seat,” a boy said.

There was urgency in his tone, and at first I didn’t understand. The woman in blue came and stood by me, wrapping her hands around the same pole I had been holding onto for dear life at every jolt and turn. And that’s when I understood.

She was pregnant. Very pregnant.

I stared curiously at the boy who’d raised his voice on this woman’s behalf. He looked about 17. His skin was dark, and he wore a red hat. He stood on the platform with no intention of getting on. Perhaps he was waiting for a different train, or perhaps he was just a bored teenager hanging out with his buddies who I could see leaning against the wall behind him.

The doors slid shut with no interference this time. As the train stalled, preparing to take off, the boy still didn’t back away.

“Hey, get up! Let the lady sit down!” the boy shouted at us, at anyone who would listen. But his words were muffled, distorted by the glass barrier between us and him. So his friends helped.

“Get up for the lady!”

“Come on, get up!”

“It’s the policy—you gotta let her sit!”

They banged on the window and shouted until a woman offered her seat to the pregnant lady.

The group of boys rejoiced, whooping and clapping and jumping up and down, relieved that their efforts weren’t in vain. The pregnant lady smiled timidly as she sat down. Three seconds later, with a jolt and a screech, the train left the station.

We’ve all read various think-pieces about rape culture and slut shaming, about misogyny and that god-awful song “Blurred Lines,” and most recently, about the young gunman Elliot Rodger. But I don’t want to talk about any of that today. Not that those topics aren’t important, but if we only focus on the problems and bad music and murder, then how fucking miserable will we be?

I want to celebrate the humanity I witnessed today. Those boys on the platform who refused to see a pregnant lady stand on the train, I am thankful for them. They deserve just as much attention as Elliot Rodger, though I know they won’t get it. I hope at the very least that their mothers are proud of them.

I sure as hell am.