Soccer, Subway and Sardines

April 22, 2010

I began playing soccer when I was 11. I was really good at it. I was fast. I was strong. I was big. I could kick the ball really hard. That was all you really needed when you’re 11 on the soccer field. As time went on, obviously, I had to acquire skills, but even then – I was big. I was strong. I was fast. I could kick the ball really hard. But my greatest strength, I have to say, was definitely my size. At 11, I was already 5 feet tall and weighed about 105 pounds. Most girls in my age bracket were 4’5″ and weighed in around 80 pounds (fully clothed, soaking wet after eating a large pizza). I obviously had the size advantage. Because of this “advantage”, I was the recipient of many a yellow card for “aggressive” play i.e. girls coming after me to get the ball, and instead of getting the ball, they ran into me and immediately bounced off and hit the ground. And the best part? I didn’t even feel them. Many a time, when I was given said yellow card, I would asked “What for?”. The ref would point and there I would discover some extremely maimed little blond chic calling for her mommy. I was pretty awesome.

So what does this have to do with the subway?

This strength, size and speed (and hoping one day that whole kicking the ball hard will come in handy) has served me very well as I navigate the subway system. Don’t believe me? Let me share a little story.

It was 5 pm. Rush hour. On the N train. An announcement tells us we are delayed due to mechanical failure of the train in front of us. So we wait. Then we move. Then we stop again. An announcement tells us that we are delayed due to a medical emergency on a different train in front of us. So we wait. Then we move. This all took about 20 minutes. Now, because of these delays, there has now been a back up of New York pedestrians trying to get home during rush hour. Like 4 trains worth of back up. So we pull into the next station and the number of people was of epic proportions – and they all thought that they could get in my car. I was already slammed up against the pole and a sweaty, fat dude. I wasn’t exactly in the mood for more people. And then the doors opened, and it was suddenly all in slow motion like a bad action movie. The wave of people began. Bags in the air, arms shoving, dirty looks being thrown, sweaty pits filling the air with their aroma, crying children, falling iPods. And when you thought it couldn’t get worse? The shove. The shove that begins from the people still stranded on the platform thinking that if they can just shove a little harder, they can make it in this car already filled with at least with the population of China. My soccer skills from childhood kicked in. I grounded myself and used my mad shoulder charging skills and leaned into the shove. And then? It stopped. I could see people trying to move, but they couldn’t get anywhere! Looks of frustration and consternation filled their faces. Just how was it possible that they couldn’t get any further? It was me. I was the one stopping the wave. The sardine can was full, and there was one sardine vying for its space in the middle of the can – and that sardine was winning. Yes, she was packed in, but gosh darn it, she was packed in on her own terms, packed in with dignity, packed in with a centimeter of space between her and her neighbor. And oh yes. The sardine was victorious.

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3 Responses to “Soccer, Subway and Sardines”

  1. Papa Says:

    Go Gal Sal!!

  2. Mom Says:

    Ah, yes! All those Saturdays in the rain, heat, fog were worth it. Dads yelling angrily at little – REALLY little – Susie or Karen or Shandra, etc., Moms giving dirty looks to the ref when little – REALLY little – Susie or Karen or Shandra, etc. fell down hard crying. Dads mumbling curse words under their breath as Moms sent evil thoughts to the Mom and Dad who were cheering and jumping in the air, the Mom and Dad whose kid was big, strong and fast and who was the cause of the physical, emotional, and permanent psychological damage to their REALLY little Susie, Karen or Shondra. MY kid. Mine and Papa’s kid. She who cannot be stopped!! She who does not move. She who stands her ground. And ultimately — She who MUST be obeyed.

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