The scene: Grand Central Station, downtown 4/5/6 platform. 5:20 p.m. Friday.
The 6 train pulls into Grand Central. A number of people hurriedly exit the train.
Man exiting train: Watch it, guys.
Me (thinking): What? I’m standing to the side. What does it mean?!?
Three or four people enter the train car. We all immediately notice that the small handful of other passengers — a shockingly small number for this bustling time of day, just post-work on a Friday evening — are all holding their scarves to their noses. The train car smells like rotten eggs or a dirty diaper or intense body odor. Or some putrid combination of the three. Also like used kitty litter and a filthy public restroom. And rotting garbage on the street in the July sun. All of the worst smells you can think of, combined and intensified.
A homeless man is laying down in one corner of the train, sleeping. Sleeping, or perhaps dead. Perhaps this is the smell of death. It is hard to tell from this distance if he is still breathing. He is not moving otherwise, and no one wants to move closer. What does death smell like?
Me (thinking): That is a horrifying thought. Oh, God. Why?
Everyone moves to the end of the car as far away from the homeless, possibly sleeping, maybe dead guy as possible. The train slows to a screeching halt.
Young Man: No. No, this can’t be happening. We can’t get stuck on this train. Oh, no. Oh, God.
Young Woman: (buries her nose deeper into her scarf, scowls)
The train begins moving again, for what seems like an eternity, before stopping at the next station. Everyone bolts from the train car, except the possibly sleeping, maybe dead homeless man. A few others attempt to board the vacated train car.
Young Man: You do NOT want to get on that train.
Everyone runs hurriedly to other cars, cramming themselves among the other people, inhaling great, painful gulps of “fresh” air. All wonder, “How long will the possibly sleeping, maybe dead homeless man ride the 6 train before someone removes him?”
Seriously, the weirdest subway event I’ve ever encountered. Runner-up goes to the time there appeared to be a dried blood stain on a seat and no one would let anyone else sit there.