It seems like I’m always trying to find my way, even when I think I know the way. There are always indicators to help – signs, usually – but they are tricky and sometimes I cannot make sense of them either. If I drop my guard, I am momentarily lost.
Before descending into the undercity I must remember to read the signs at the entrance. Downtown? Uptown? Or can I decide once I am down? Wait, people are only streaming out, not in. Check the colour of the subway globes – red, exit only. Look around to find the white and green ones that indicate an entrance. Maybe I can’t see them because they are a block or more away.
Finally, down the steps, through the turnstile – oops, swipe that metrocard again, success! Follow the always-confusing signs. Every station has multiple lines A,C,E,2,3,4,5,L and maybe the LIRR. Hurry to the platform, double back and try again. Don’t forget to check which side of the platform or else, again, I’m heading downtown instead of up.
Listen for the announcements, which station? Am I on a local or an express? Why are we stopping here? Rerouted again. Ooh, I could change to the 4 here? Maybe that will be faster because it has less stops, but how long will I have to wait for it? And I have a seat now, I might not get a seat if I change, maybe it’s better to stay on this one. If I prevaricate long enough the decision is made. Stay.
Exiting is another exercise in navigating. Despite indicators, I am lost until I’ve done it a few times. And even then it’s no guarantee. Stairs to NW corner, that’s good. Emerge from the world below, but am I facing N or W? As I stood looking vainly up and down the street from a new station yesterday I discovered a new indicator. The helicopter flight path on the Hudson River. If I can see helicopters flying between buildings then I am heading the right way.