A good twenty years ago, my husband Michael and I treated our seven-year-old nephew to a Mets game. I don’t remember the final score, who won or even against whom the Mets played. However, one incident occurred that day at Shea that I’ll never forget. And although the subject of this essay is an event that took place just last December, the Shea Disaster seems as good a place as any to start.
Like 55,000 other Mets fans, we had one objective when the game ended: getting home. But unlike most of those 55,000 fans, Michael (who is blind) and I (whose arms are paralyzed) could not drive or (at least in the 1980s) take the train or subway to our destination. So we headed for a pay phone (when did cell phones arrive on the scene?) and called a local car service. We were told where to wait and assured that our car would arrive in 15 minutes.
Thirty minutes later, we were still waiting. Cars bearing the correct logo arrived with great regularity, but the name the drivers shouted was never ours. We trudged back to the pay phone and were assured that the very next car was ours — guaranteed. When it came into view, we rushed toward the driver but before we could utter a word, a burly man hurtled past us, yanked the car’s rear door open, got inside and immediately leaned forward, shoving something into the driver’s hand. “Wait!” we sputtered as the driver dutifully pulled away. As the car gained speed, the passenger rolled down his window and barked, “Life is tough!”
Yes, we were furious, but part of us wanted to genuflect and exclaim, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” A New Yorker was treating us like dirt. Was this not the ultimate sign of emancipation?
Two decades later, you’d think I’d be impervious to impudence. So would I. But on December 28, 2005, smack dab in the middle of what Western civilization calls the season of peace and good will, I suffered two indignities within a span of two minutes — and it happened on the Long Island Rail Road.
To be continued…