Still moved after a conversation in the subway early this morning, when, same as millions of inhabitants of this vast and unfading city, I was just heading to office following the harmonious flow of fellow workers in the tunnels.
We were slowing into a station, the doors opened and a boy jumped in, with the wagon still not fully stopped. He nimbly grabbed one of the side bars next to the door. He was wearing tight pants, had some neck tattoos. His hair was dyed as is fashionable now among the young. There were quite a few people in the train, but it wasn’t yet crowded. Mihael, I learned later that’s his name, is a fast-food deliveryman. He carries pizza, kebabs, burgers and curries. He wants to be a stunt actor. A seat became free and Mihael sat down. A girl next to both of us was typing something on her mobile phone, and Mihael could see that she had just received a message that began with “I love you with all my soul, my…”. He looked away to stop reading. The girl didn’t seem to care, but I noticed that Mihael felt annoyed. He didn’t seem to like entering the privacy of strangers. Another girl across began to yawn and covered her face with something that she was reading.
Loudspeakers in the subway car began giving a message: “Next station is Keelbarn Park. This is a non-stop station. The subway convoy will slow down to seven kilometres per hour, but it will not stop. Jump in the direction of travel when the doors open.” It is the new improvement they are testing on this line. It is a difficult but necessary measure, to reduce expenses and to be able to maintain the price of the subway ticket.
I saw that Mihael rose from his seat ready to jump, no problem for him it seemed. Next to him stood up a woman between sixty and seventy years old, slim with white hair in a braided bun and shining black eyes, wearing weathered but rather clean clothes. In one sleeve however there was a hole that bloody well could be mice. I remember thinking that she might be homeless, sleeping in the street, and that she shouldn’t jump in Keelbarn Park. If she waited two more stops, she could get off from a stopped train and walk down the street to her destination, it wouldn’t take more than twenty extra minutes. If she jumped here, she could fall and hurt herself. And most likely she wouldn’t have credit to cover for the health services. Everyone knows what happens when you don’t even have for a Mr Sawbones! The system can’t take care of you, it is not possible. If you fall and break a bone, you either leave the station on your own or the health services take you away. Then a doctor opens you up and heals you, the law says so, it is mandatory. But if you have no credit, the doctor can first remove a kidney, a nerve from a leg, whatever. Until the debt is paid. You are allowed to pay off your debt with your body, like shall we say an organ donation. The law says so.
Mihael and I exchanged glances when we saw this woman getting ready. I was surprised and not sure what was going on. Pretty certain we all in that train were thinking the same. She knows that if you are badly injured and can’t work then you don’t have credit. Then you are a burden, a burden to the system that should not pay for your health services. It already pays a part for all of us. So, you are going to be dead anyway, and better for everyone if at least someone who does have credit can recover faster from an illness or accident and get back to work sooner. Better if you are giving up some of your organs than if you are hiding in a sewer to die. When they find you, you are no longer good for anything.
Both Mihael and I agreed on this thought when we rumbled into Keelbarn Park station. I was convinced that the lady was not going to jump. The train had slowed down, and the doors started to open. The light of the station was now visible through the windows of the leading carriages. I looked at Mihael and we both saw the lady glued to him, her deep black eyes looking up in silence. I think she reminds me of someone. She was pretty, graceful even with her ragged clothes.
«Lady, are you going to jump!?» said Mihael in a tone that tried to be discouraging. Then he slightly contracted his body and, without letting go of the bar on the train’s door for a moment, jumped out of the car, in a way that would seem very easy to anyone who hasn’t tried it. It isn’t easy guys, that I can confirm. The lady jumped half a second later, almost touching him, so that Mihael found her in front as he took his first step onto the platform. The lady stumbled and staggered to the side, but Mihael was right behind her. They both fell backwards on Mihael’s ass. The lady had fallen on top of him and he had instinctively put his arms around her. Always better than on the hard ground for the lady. They were both there sitting, people on the moving train and on the platform looking at them.
How did the lady know that they would fall together? The lady got up quickly, and as she did, she turned around and said a «thank you» that Mihael had to read from her lips, because of the noise of the subway train moving away. Whoa with the lady! How well she did!
I jumped out as well a few seconds later. Mihael was now feeling the rush of adrenaline, he stood up and was shaking his arms. He told me later that this felt like a real movie scene, and that from today he was sure, one day he was going to be a top-notch stuntman!