The scene is much like the set up to a bad joke. It’s late at night, you’ve been waiting on the platform for half an hour, you’re tired, hungry, maybe drunk, possibly sobering up, but certainly in desperate need of a toilet. A train finally arrives. All the cars are packed save one in the middle. Why not take that one, you think. However, the moment you walk into the car and take your seat it becomes abundantly clear why it was empty: there is no air conditioning. So there you are—sweating bullets, your body begging you for rest, and alone in a car with a crazy old lady and maybe a homeless person, but chances are even the panhandlers have moved towards the air conditioning. You have a choice to make. Do yo want to sit, sleep for a few stops, or stand in the air conditioning. The choice is obvious: move to the other car, right? But you’re already sitting, you’re already tired and dozing off, so you stay. It’s always a mistake.
The right choice is always, always, always no matter what, to go towards the air conditioning, because there are three or four certainties in life: Death, taxes, the inevitable crime of passion, and the fact that New York subways in the summer are on the short list of things that can make you want to end your life by jumping in front of an incoming train, or paying someone to wring your neck before you even go into the station.
The convenience of the empty seats in the hotter-than-the-devil’s-dick train car force you into the awkward position of making a choice that is inherently bad for you. And for everyone else, for that matter, because this experience makes you all the more likely to kill the person who left the milk out earlier that morning, or slap someone else’s kid on your way home. The empty seats offer false hope and only the illusion of satisfaction by making you think that maybe sitting will allow you to tolerate the heat. But just like last tuesday when you got shafted by the F train and just like next monday when the D train gives you a proverbial kick to the groin by pulling a fast one on you, it’s always the wrong choice to sit down instead of stand in the cold. Not only that, but you’re pissed and edgy.
So please, next time the third car is mysteriously and suspiciously empty, don’t even go in, don’t put yourself in the position of having to choose. Just swallow your pride and your hopeful pragmatism and avoid the empty car. You know it’s the right thing to do. Like helping an old lady cross the street. Or donating your eggs to that nice gay couple.