Girl fight! That's what greeted me as I boarded the subway at 116th this morning. Actually, it took me a few minutes to realize what was going on, as I was busy settling into a seat on the train. The car appeared crowded, and it seemed odd that there were so many vacant seats, but my subway theory is "sit first, figure out what's going on later."
Once the doors closed I noticed the uncommon knot of people a few yards away from me. Then I heard a loud string of profanities and name-calling. Uh-oh. Someone was mighty angry at 7:55 in the morning.
Two ghetto-chicks (and since they were calling themselves that and I'm a proud Spanish Harlem ghetto-chick, I believe I can get away with pinning that moniker on both women) were having it out with each other, but good. One of the other passengers told me that the angry girl in the stocking cap had been lying down, taking up a whole subway seat (very dangerous bid'niz, if you know what I mean), when the girl in the green jacket tried to get her to move over.
It escalated and punches were thrown. No, didn't see it - just heard it, since their mobile wrestling ring was surrounded by interested subway riders. Several large men tried to break it up, but breaking up a cat-fight is a dangerous proposition, whatever your size. When we reached 103rd Street station, the conductor stopped down the train - which angered everyone trying to get to work and school - and stood in the doorway until the police arrived. The women were hauled off the train, still screaming and punching (didn't envy that policeman!), and we were free to go on our merry way.
Such excitement for a Friday morning! I'm always surprised that this kind of thing doesn't happen more often. At any moment the guy or gal next to you on the subway, on the street, in the bank or grocery line could lose it and cause mass chaos. Certainly this can and does happen, no matter the size of the city or town. But it doesn't happen very often. Even in crowded Manhattan. Whatever issues, anger, sadness, or disappointments folks have, they manage to contain them in public.
While New Yorkers are always in a hurry, people here are usually helpful and love to talk. Complete strangers share jokes and laughter. Truly. Even this morning in the midst of our little version of WWE, the rest of us were making wisecracks and calling the punches. We shared a common NYC experience. Because most of us are able to control ourselves for the greater public good (and despite what you see on CSI:NY or Law and Order), we ensure each other's safety.
Here's to the millions of New Yorkers who behaved themselves today on public transport and on the wide avenues and narrow side streets to live their lives and get on with their business. And to our two girl-fight chicks? Well, to quote the woman next to me on the #6 this morning: Grow up, calm down, and show more self-respect. That's how the rest of us do it.