Seriously. I couldn't see the book. The train conductor came on the speaker and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, there are no lights on this train. Repeat, no lights on this train."
Everyone tittered a little nervously. I glanced around. Nothing but shadowy forms, barely visible. I got a little nervous as we raced through the tunnel in complete darkness, thinking that anyone could do anything to anybody in the dark.
That section of the tunnel must only have lasted fifteen or twenty seconds, though. Then the lights in the tunnel began to flash past, strobing yellow with flashes of blue, and everyone could see each other again -- albeit in eerie pulses.
I put my book away and just watched the passengers pulse.
After two or three of minutes, we pulled into into the Lexington station. We could all see again. Though you could feel the sigh of relief from the crowd, someone said, "That was awesome. Let's do it again!"
Then as the doors opened, we heard the conductor over the speaker, on the radio with someone at dispatch or elsewhere. "We don't have any interior lights," she said. "Get them turned on."
And the lights came back on in the train.
So I transferred to the 6 train, and at 42nd Street a guy with a blue plastic wristband came and stood in front of where I was sitting. He was 35 or so, white, blue shirt, blue jeans, didn't look homeless or anything. But when the train started, he said in a clear voice, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm very embarrassed to be asking this, but I just got out of the hospital a couple of days ago, where I was diagnosed with AIDS. I'm very hungry. If you could help me out with some food, or help me get something to eat, I'd appreciate it."
He was standing right in front of me. He turned to move down the train. I rustled the plastic bag. He turned back toward me. I handed the bag to him. "It's just cookies," I said.
"Thank you," he said and moved off down the train.
I hurried off the train at 33rd Street. I was the second one through the turnstiles. Why did I feel so self-conscious to have anyone from the train see my face as I left?