Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Subway Guard Friend

I have always wanted to have an intimate interview with a New York subway guard. Selecting one that I thought would answer my purpose, I arrayed myself in medieval armour, and sent up my card. He received me very pleasantly.
"Sit down and make yourself at home," he said, throwing me across the room into a chair.
"You don't know how to sit down, do you?"
He stood me on my head once or twice, broke a collar bone or so and I believe a rib, and arranged me in the proper manner.
"There, that's better," he said. "Now, what can I do for you? Any little thing."
My armour, which, though not made to order fitted me fairly well when I entered, was now bent so as to occasion me some slight inconvenience. But I smiled brightly and replied:
"I came in to know how you like your life's work?"
"I was born to it," he replied, playfully putting his feet on my chest and gentle exerting a four hundred-pound pressure until I felt the wall behind me preparing to yield. "It's a great thing to understand your job, to like it, and to know that you are the right man in the right place."
 "Don't you find," I ventured, "that people are often rude to you?"
"That is my cross," he replied. "The work of every real artist is handicapped by the misunderstanding of the purely vulgar; but I bear with them, I bear with them."
He started to move me to the ceiling, when, thinking that I might interest him in the details of his profession, I asked: “At a guess, about how many people can you get into an ordinary subway car?"
He smiled blithely and flicked the ashes of a superb stogie into my off eye.
"It depends entirely upon my moods," he replied. “I am very temperamental. If I am feeling in fairly good condition, and at peace with all the world, I can get in about five thousand."
"That is a goodly number," I ventured. The truth is, my mind was beginning to wander slightly. And my blood pressure, I should judge, was above one thousand, and I was afraid to start anything too definite.
"I suppose," I added, as vaguely as possible "that on your off days you couldn't pack in more than two or three hundred or possibly--"
A hurt look came into his eye, and I saw his muscles begin to swell ominously.
“Now you are guying me," he said. Picking me up and throwing me down, he stamped on me for a few moments until my new suit was something like a sheet of steel writing paper. Then he folded me up and shot me through the door.
"Come around and see me again," he chortled, "I'm a little off today, not quite myself."

'From "Well, Why Not?" Doubleday, Page and Company, 1921. THOMAS L. MASSON

No comments:

Post a Comment