Discussion #3- Observation of a Public Space (Ashley Borja)

I decided to observe the A train during rush hour. I started observing from Utica Avenue in Brooklyn to 145st in Manhattan. The train was packed with New Yorkers trying to get home from their jobs. There were barely any seats free and the ones that were free were dirty. While I stood holding a pole, a group of women entered the train. They loudly conversed about the Coronavirus and politics. The train was rowdy and had a consistent squeaking sound between stations.

The people on the train came from different ethnic backgrounds. A good portion of the people on the train wore surgical masks– I even observed an old couple with wipes. Everyone on the train seemed to be on their phones or listening to music on headphones. Once the train arrived in Manhattan a couple of teens got on to perform what they call “showtime”. They danced to house beats and pop music.

As time passed, people began moving in clusters– people exited and entered on main stops. I commute using the train every single day to get across the city. The transit system is a huge part of New York City culture. Watching groups of friends get on the train reminded me of the times I would take the train with friends.

Throughout the whole ride, there were homeless people asking for money. They usually shared their stories before asking for help from the public. Occasionally people would give them money– but a good portion of the time people looked away and pretended they did not hear.

The smell of disinfectant was consistent throughout the whole time I was on the train. It smelled like Purell and Lysol. Everyone on the train appeared on edge when someone coughed or sneezed. Overall, the ride felt extremely long and uncomfortable.

Comments ( 4 )

  1. Sara Sanchez
    Hey I'm doing the trains setting as well! What stood out to me besides your choice setting was of course the virus outbreak, but also how different my experiences have regarding that & people on the train. The most common behavior I've seen as each day passes are more commuters wearing disposable gloves. I haven't had the experience of entering a train cart that smelled like lysol & purrell-at least not yet.
  2. Sharon Leal
    Hey! I enjoyed reading your post, especially with the mentions of how you overheard people talking about the virus and “showtime” going on. I’ve seen the wiped down marks left on train seats from the cleaning which is what I related to you mentioned the smell Lysol. I do see a lot of these things as well so it was easy to imagine myself in the setting with you.
  3. Christiane C. Campbell
    I find this post to be very relatable, especially the part about "showtime"! I usually get at least 1 showtime on my commute-- some being better than others. I like those rare showtimes that are an outlier because they're so much better the average showtime. The showtimes that don't annoy those of us on the train and actually puts a few smiles on people's faces.
  4. Angel Pacheco
    I enjoyed how you mentioned the differences in the usual public commute. It was really interesting to see details, like how more people are wearing masks, and how the trains were recently disinfected. It really gives a clear picture of how the virus has affected people.

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