Okay, first, you have to see this video:
It’s the “Rhapsody in Blue” segment from Fantasia 2000, and although I highly recommend watching the entire twelve minutes and 42 second, what I really want you to watch is the portion from 3:50 to 4:25 – the subway scene. And that for no other reason than that I lived that highly creative bit of animation earlier this afternoon.
I hopped on the metro on my way home from work, but despite everyone’s promptness in boarding, the train sat in the station, motionless, for several minutes. Whenever this happens, as it sometimes does, I mentally chalk it up to the driver needing to take a potty break, which doesn’t make any sense when I actually think about it, as there are no bathrooms in the metro stations. It’s still always the first thing to pop up in my mind though whenever it happens. The mind is a silly thing I guess. But I digress… After a few minutes, the warning beep beep beep went off, the doors slowly slid shut, and we eased into forward motion. Everything was going well, with the normal shudders and bumps that I sometimes like to ride like a balance test, my knees slightly bent and my hands hovering at my sides, ready to grab the support pole at a moment’s notice. Then we came to rest at the next stop. And we stayed there. And I have to admit that the first thought in my mind was that that driver’s bladder had to be the tiniest one in the world, silly as that thought was. After a minute or two, an announcement came slurring through the loudspeakers, letting us know that service on our line was momentarily disrupted and that the entire metro machine was “Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Finally, the warning beep sounded, the doors slid shut, and we once again eased into forward motion. All good. Except that when we got to the next station, it was packed full of people who had been accumulating in semi-rush hour numbers as they waited for the unexplainedly late train. And of course, they all packed themselves in with those of us already inside – there was no way they were going to wait one more minute, man. It was when we got to the station after though that things got interesting.
At the next station, the number of people waiting was at least equal to the number that had just piled in like sardines at the last stop. And they equaled the previous crowd in their willingness to cram into any space available, one man precariously perched nearly in the oncoming path of the shutting doors as the people behind him formed an impenetrable and immovable wall of human flesh. And wouldn’t you know it, I was pinned way at the back of the crowd, with no visible hope of getting through to the doors to get off where I needed to, at the next stop. Luckily though, after exchanging a few little expressions of incredulity at the packed-ness of the metro with the women next to me, I was able to connect with them on the deep level of fellow commuters, and we somehow started to act as a team, to move in what I had just decided was immovable. The woman next to me and I sort of did a slithering little side step dance to switch places, as she didn’t have to get off yet, and the petite brunette in front of my nose positioned herself to make a move once the doors opened. I don’t know exactly how, but there was a slight shift in the body positions around us, and suddenly I felt that there might actually be the possibility of getting out of the sardine can we were in. We came to a stop. Ding ding ding. The doors crept open. Carefully, bending under the arms and around the bulging bags that stuck out from the mass I assume was made up of individual people, we made it closer to the light. Then, right on the edge of freedom, some girl with the nerve to not be paying any attention was blocking our only open space by trying to board! Thank heavens she looked up and realized how things stood. She stepped back to join the others who had actually had to disembark in order for us to get off, and we were finally able to breath!
I stretched out my legs as I mounted to steps leading away from the boarding platform, watching the windows slide by as they displayed that awkwardly squashed jumble of heads, elbows, arms, and coats filling every available inch inside.
Watch the clip. Then you’ll understand.