I can’t sleep so I decided I should write down what just happened to me.
Basic details about me are that I’m a skinny, 20 year old, white boy with brown hair, carrying a canvas messenger bag on my way home.
I was riding the F train north into Manhattan by myself at about 11:25PM. At night, I always make sure to ride in train-cars that have the most amount of people in them for safety reasons; this particular car had about 15 people in it. We passed a few stations and I was planning on getting off at Herald Square. To transfer to another train. As we stopped at a station about 6 stops away from Herald Square, I saw a grizzled looking homeless guy walk by the train and look into the window. I didn’t pay much attention to him and I remember thinking to myself, “I hope he doesn’t get on this train…” He continues walking by the window and down the platform until he’s out of my line of sight. I think, “Phew.”
As the train starts rolling again, about 1 minute goes by as the train is in motion and then the doors that connect the subway cars slide open and I look up. Here comes the grizzled hobo man. As he slowly walks through the subway car getting closer to me and I think, “Please don’t sit near me…” He continues his trek across the floor of the subway car and then plops down directly across from me and begins staring at me. I immediately break eye contact and look casually around the train. A minute goes by and he’s still staring right at me. At this point I’m completely tense and worried about what he may be doing.
Suddenly, he stands up and grabs the center pole between myself and him. He steadies himself and then walks over to the edge of my seat near the door (I was sitting at the end of a bench seat next to the exit doors). I continue to avoid eye contact as he stands over me; I remained paralyzed with fear and paranoia about what the hell he’s doing. This is not what normal people do on the subway. I internally beg him to stop freaking me out and then…
He sits down right next to me so his leg is touching against my messenger bag and into my leg. At this point I am completely and utterly freaked out. I’m running through scenarios in my head of what I will need to do soon- should I stand up and change seats? Should I say something? Should I wait? Should I leave the train at the next stop? What is he doing? Is he trying to pick-pocket me? Is he trying to do something physical or hurt me? Should I shout at him to leave me alone and get away?
I decide that at the next stop, I’m going to get off the train and act like it’s my stop. I’ll be completely normal and cool about it. The stop comes and the train slows at the platform. Once the doors open I wait half a second and then casually stand up to leave. As I’m walking toward the exit door, I see his reflection stand up behind me from the subway’s window.
I figure, “Okay, so he’s getting off too, no big deal, if I dash back onto the train, he should have the common sense not to follow me back on again and I’ll leave him at the platform.” I quickly exit the subway, turn left, run two doors down, and then swiftly move back into the subway car (same car as before, just further down). I sit down and put my head down in hopes that he won’t notice me.
The doors start to close and I start to feel relief. Then an arm slides through the closing doors. The man is forcing the doors back open and the automated subway alert warns everyone to stand clear of the closing doors. He continues to fight with the doors and then they open back up again. He enters the subway, looks around, spots me, and starts to walk toward me.
And then another man sitting in the train stands up. “You need to get off the train. Now.” He yells loudly at the hobo. My heart is pounding with adrenaline and I’m frozen in place. This guy is pretty big and has a thick Brooklyn accent. He pushes the hobo back out through the doors as they’re closing but the hobo keeps an arm inside, fighting to stay in. My protector continues to firmly shout at the hobo, “You’re getting off the train. You need to get off the train NOW! I will smash you up so bad- GET OFF THE TRAIN NOW!” He continues pushing the hobo out until finally, the doors slide shut.
We pull away from the platform, my heart spasming as the adrenaline makes its way through my whole system. The New Yorker sits back down, shaking his head. I stare at him for a moment and we make eye contact, I say, “Thank you. Thank you,” and he just nods back at me.
To the man who noticed what was happening, stood up for me, and protected me in a situation that could have become extremely unpredictable or even violent; Thank you!
tl;dr I was riding a subway home when a hobo got on the train, sat closer and closer and closer to me until we were side by side and then followed me off the train. I ran back onto the train and the hobo forced his way in even though the doors were closing only to be pushed back out of the train by a different subway rider with a thick Brooklyn accent.