“F” stands for …

25 March, 2009

Brooklyn’s beloved old F Train means a lot of things to a lot of people.   For several years, while I was living at the 15th Street/Prospect Park stop, near Bartel Pritchard Square (which is really a circle), “F” stood for “FUCKING F TRAIN!!!” commonly overheard – and grumbled – as I would walk home 6 blocks and 2 avenues whenever the train felt like running local, which was fairly often.

My subsequent move to Carroll Gardens and, I believe, a ramped up effort on the part of the Metropoloitan Transit Authority, led me to have a kinder opinion of the dear old F train, which, like a friend you’ve known too long to fight with, holds a sentimental and almost-warm place in my heart.

Imagine the overwhelming mess of feelings, then, when, last night, a brand-spankin’ shiny new F train came rolling in to the Carroll Street station, it’s red LCD “F” shining like a beacon into the age of modernity.  The yellow fluorescent lights of yesterday’s F train was replaced by the white/blue glow of technology, complimented by a multicolored LCD map of where we are going and how long it will take us to get there.  Our derrières took in the smooth gray plastic seats.  The lack of screeching wheels was nearly deafening. Sensory overload.  New F train, I thought.  I feel like I do not know you at all.

Today, though, I can’t shake the old adage of If it ain’t broke… out of my head, despite all of my angry head-shaking.  The timing of the MTA this morning to vote for an absolutely obscene fare-hike, arriving as early as June 1, couldn’t be more insulting.

Like a pusher to a new junkie, a bully to a weakling, a boss to an underling:

“You liked that new train, didn’t you,” the MTA barks to F train riders.  “It made you feel comfortable, informed, safe and secure, didn’t it?”

“Well…” we hesitantly mutter, huddled masses in nervous unison.

“You were riding the train of the future; who wouldn’t like that?”

“I didn’t really mind the old -“

“HUSH!” the MTA growls.  “The future comes at a PRICE.  You must PAY for the LUXURY of an LCD display.  Those doors don’t close by themselves, you know.”

“BUT THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE OLD F TRAIN!” we courageously shout.  “Sure the colors were outmoded and the ride was noisy.  But what of scratched, graffitied windows?  The yellow and orange seats held our tushes securely in place everytime the train pitched forward or back, the yellowed, dirtied lights brought a strange comfort once you got used to them.  The garbled conductor’s announcements provided challenges and required keen observation skills.  AND WE LOVED IT FOR WHAT IT WAS!  Your new trains and your fare-hike won’t get rid of the raspy-voiced electric guitarist who only appears on the days you have a headache, nor will it make the journey up from the center of the earth at 63rd & Lexington any more bearable.”

“I DEMAND $2.50 JUST FOR THE MENTION OF MY BEAUTIFUL LEXINGTON AVENUE STATION!” is all the MTA can reply.

“IF WE HAD ENOUGH MONEY TO STOMACH YOUR FARE-HIKES, MTA, WE WOULD TAKE AN F’ING CAB!!!” the angry horde hurls back.

‘F’ may now stand for new-Fangled and Fancy, but MTA means only one thing:

Making Transportation an Abomination*.

Spring is coming; I got a bicycle and two good legs.  Boycotts don’t get sweeter than the feel of wind through your helmet and a strong body ready to kick ass.

* = other “one things” that MTA could stand for include  Making Transit unAffordable.  Messing up Trains At any cost.  Any other acronym ideas?  Please comment!

What was so wrong with the old F trains?
What was so wrong with the old F trains?

vs.

The New F Train Glides Into the Station - my camera phone tries to keep up.
The New F Train Glides Into the Station – my camera phone tries to keep up.

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