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Scorcher: My First Day of the M Train's Summer of Hell — Wick Talk on Bushwick Daily

Scorcher: My First Day of the M Train's Summer of Hell

What happens when the L and the M are not both functioning at full capacity?

Femi Zaccheus

Writer

These boots definitely weren’t made for walking, I thought to myself as I walked past bodegas I’ve never seen before. You know how they say the last six miles of a marathon are run on straight-up adrenaline? That’s exactly what this extra ten minutes of walking to the L train felt like. As I dragged my just beaten up enough Doc Martens down Wyckoff Avenue, I glanced at the Planet Fitness and vowed to get a membership on my way home.  

Starting on July 1, the M train ran only from Myrtle Avenue into the city, meaning everyone who lived from Central Avenue to the end of the line at the Metropolitan Avenue stops had to use shuttles, buses, or their own legs to get to complete their commutes. And even though a small part of the M train is back in operation, the trip for Ridgewood and Middle Village residents is still not continuous. The shutdowns were billed as “The Summer Of Hell” for people like me who rely on the M train out of Ridgewood.

As I shuffled down the steps to the L train on that first day of the shutdown at Myrtle-Wyckoff I couldn’t help but miss the fresh air of the above ground Seneca M train stop. Here I was rudely greeted by a wave of hot, stale air as though I had been transported in time to my high school gym’s locker room. Summer of Hell indeed. 

At least the L was supposed to run pretty regularly, I guess.

As I looked around on my first day down there, I noticed there were a ton of people on the platform. I started to honestly wonder if I’d even make it on the train. Opening the Uber app revealed that it would have cost me $49-$68 to get to work, so unless I was trying to eat peanut butter sandwiches for the next two weeks that was completely out of the question.

The arrival of the L interrupted my research; that was pretty quick!

As the train rushed into the station, another wave of hellishly hot air enveloped all the commuters. What’s the opposite of being present in the moment? I needed to cultivate that skill ASAP.

A slow, tip-toeing migration began as everyone attempted to inch their way onto the train. I squished and squirmed and moments later found myself sharing a pole with four people all careful not to encroach on the others' precious space they had carved out on this extremely packed train.

Once the train took off, I somehow managed to pull my phone out without elbowing anybody. It told me to take the N, W, or R trains at Union Square, and I thanked the gods for Steve Jobs' little magic rectangle invention because I would be totally lost otherwise, and whoever made Twitter too for giving me something to do while I rode the train.  

At Union Square, despite all of our modern technological advances, I was still kind of lost! Eventually I navigated myself onto a much less densely populated N train and plopped myself into a seat. Smooth sailing from here, I thought!

All of a sudden I heard, “There’s been a switch problem on Lexington Avenue. All Queens bound N trains are now running on the F line.”

I never got around to learning Latin so I had no clue what any of what I just heard meant. I looked around, and others looked only slightly less confused, but less confused was better than very confused so I asked someone to translate. They told me to switch to the R train, but what I really wanted to do was switch to working from home. 

As I got onto the R with all of the other N train escapees, I realized that this was only the first day of the M train shutdown. With a fifteen-month L train shutdown looming in April 2019, I’m in for a long ride.

Featured image by guillotineriotgrrl.

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