I’ve been riding the New York subway at ungodly hours for months now–about 9, to be exact. Last night I left work at 3am. Business as usual. There’s the option of taking a cab, but they just don’t appeal to me. Sitting in the backseat as someone chauffeurs me home feels extravagant. It takes longer to go by subway, but this affords me time to read, write, or just stare ahead blankly. The risks involved in riding public transportation in the middle of the night really haven’t been an issue…thieves, rapists, drug addicts, belligerent homeless people–they haven’t pestered me much. Nothing has pestered me much, really.
But last night that changed. I was standing beside one of those tiled columns on the platform. I admired a small rat climbing over one of the rails. No lights shone in the tunnel, so I focused on writing in my notepad. A few people waited, but overall the station was pretty quiet.
After a few moments, though, something happened. I felt a sensation on my toes. I live in flip-flops in the summer. I didn’t think much of the sensation at first, but it was enough to inspire me to look down. At first I noticed that my toes were a bit dirty. I made a mental note to take a shower when I got home. But as I looked closer, I saw a bug walking over two of the toes on my left foot. Not just a bug–a bee!
I sucked in my breath and was at a loss as to what to do. One simply does not expect to have to problem solve this sort of problem in the subway at 3am. Luckily, after a few moments, the bee crawled onto the plastic strap of my flip-flop. I slowly eased my foot out of my flip-flop–positive that I would be stung at any moment. It didn’t sting me, though, and I was able to pick up the shoe, tap it on the platform, and be rid of the bee.
I put my flip-flop back on, took a few steps back, and chuckled about what had just happened. Before I chuckled more than once or twice, though, I saw the bee FLYING towards me. Why do they do that? It landed on my skirt. What I had been laughing about a second earlier, sent me into a sudden moderate panic–
I know. It’s not that bee stings even hurt terribly or that I’m allergic, but if it can be avoided at all, that’s certainly preferable.
In any event, I sort of lost it. The bee flew off of my skirt and hovered very close to me. It seemed to have its sights set on landing on the back of my shirt at this point. I’m not sure if it did make it on my shirt or not, but in an effort to escape, I started running down the subway platform. Running and whimpering. And desperately trying to get a good look at my back to see if the bee had landed.
When I stopped running, I no longer saw the bee, but I continued to fidget and whimper. A man sat on a nearby bench. He’d been witness to my frantic running. I’m not sure if he knew why I was behaving in that manner. I kind of hope he had no idea. Because if he didn’t see the bee, then for that brief amount of time, I was, in his mind, an insane person. Running from nothing. At 3am on the subway platform.
I still don’t know what became of the bee or where it came from. The train came soon after I stopped running. I checked the reflection of my back in the train glass to be completely sure of the bee’s absence. Nothing. I inhaled and exhaled deeply and waited for my stop.