Yesterday I met a friend for lunch in Tribeca. I traveled comfortably on the train with a light midday crowd. I got cozy in my seat and went about watching the people and reading the ads. I was amused by an ad for FlatRate movers – a checklist for moving to the West Village. Then I saw a Dr. Zizmor ad and I said to myself I would try to get a free consultation (it is a recession and I’d use my writer credentials) and I’d like to see if Dr. Zizmor is a real person.
This afternoon, March 13th, I was on my way to a TD Bank branch to cash in some change. It took me a while to realize it because I was sitting in a different spot but I was in the same car I was in yesterday! I saw the Dr. Zizmor ad again. Then I saw the FlatRate ad and ads for 1-800-IMMIGRATION and 1-800-INNOCENT from the day before. Looking down the car, I saw I was in car number 6636. That couldn’t be, I thought. Yesterday, after a quick walk through Tribeca to walk off lunch, I rode in the car 6639. Groups of subway cars are usually sequential. Was it possible that this was the same exact train I rode yesterday, twice? Now that group of cars was in the front, headed uptown, and in the back, headed downtown. When I got off the train, sure enough, three cars away was car number 6639.
The reason I remember I rode home yesterday in car 6639 is because I had to read those numbers to the conductor through the emergency intercom when this young woman collapsed while having a seizure. It felt good that I knew what to do, while other passengers were loud and panicky or scared silent. Her eyes never closed during the seizure. I looked into her eyes, waiting for the seizure to end. Her face and expression are burned into my brain. One minute she was “looking” at me and totally out of it, next minute, she saw me. A faint smile came over her face. I started talking to her, she insisted she was ok, her pale lips and very slow, heavy blinks said otherwise. She knew what day of the week it was, where she was going before the seizure and told me that had never happened to her before. Another guy kept talking to her and cracking jokes, probably out of his own nervousness or his inner Dr. Hibbert. And she kept looking at me. Maybe it was the bright red jacket, the big afro puff, or my insistence that she go to the hospital. I think the questions I asked her made her realize I knew what I was talking about. Just like that, the train pulled into the next station and she was whisked away.
My last three consecutive rides on the IRT were on the same train, twice in the same car. I’m not a gambling woman (with money) but I knew even before I told my mother the story, she’d tell me to play those numbers. When I got back to my neighborhood from the bank, I stopped to buy some lotto. If it aint scratch-off or Mega Millions quick pick, I’m clueless. I do know there’s a game where you pick four numbers so that’s the one I bought. Then the vendor starts asking me if I want 50-50 box or straight or something else I don’t remember – like he was an auctioneer. I told him I didn’t know what he meant and that I wanted two dollars. And as I’m writing this, I just realized the numbers – 9, 6, and 3 on 3-12-09 and 3-13-09. Freaky. Friday the 13th.