Sunday, March 29, 2015

Subway Injuries

This was a bad weekend for me, commuting-wise.

Saturday, Articulate Joe and I both had to be across town, so we went together. Like all of our trips across town, it took over six hours. We left at noon to drop Joe off at a friend's house at 1:30 for me to ride with her husband to a building where I had a meeting at 3 PM. My meeting went long, then we had to go back to the friend's house to get my son.

As usually happens whenever I leave the house, the point where I am frustrated and ready to be home came when I was still hours away from being able to actually be home. So we were trying to make our commute home as quickly as possible. We got to the platform for our first train, and there was a train waiting there, doors ajar. However, it was getting pretty stale, since we weren't even in earshot when it had entered the station. But the stairs were close to the train doors, so I said "come on" to Articulate Joe and we tried to hop aboard the train.

On our "home" subway line, Line 1, a warning bell sounds when the doors are about to close. This usually means, "When the bell finishes, the conductor will begin to think about closing the doors." The sounding of the bell, then, is the stimulus for much platform running and gap minding. However, we weren't on Line 1 at this time. We were on Line 10, where evidently the watchword is "close the doors and then sound the bell by way of explanation."

We were off the stairs and on the platform and I had decided to jump through the closest door, all before the bell began. In my mind, there was going to be no problem. But the bell began to sound as the doors closed, exactly on me. Blessedly, I was right in the middle of the doorway, so it closed on my shoulders, and my frame was substantial enough to stop the doors, which the reopened. But it turns out the doors close with a lot of force, and my elbows are still sore. Had it just been my arm in there, I'm not sure what would have happened.

Line 10 is one of the lines with working platform doors, so while my shoulders had jammed the train doors, Articulate Joe's heel was stuck in the platform doors. But he pulled it out and joined me in the train.

Perhaps you remember my blog post from November about the woman who died by being stuck between the train and platform doors. I remember it. Had my shoulders not stopped the train doors, I possibly could have led my son to his death. I am a terrible father.

My second subway injury of the weekend happened Sunday. The trip to church requires two transfers. Beijing metro transfers can be quite long. The first transfer is a long one, and the second one is long enough that it gets singled out on Wikipedia as an example of a transfer needing reconstruction. Since most ascents and descents in the subway only have stairs available, and since the trains are always crowded, we don't take a stroller to church. But since the streets of Beijing are filthy with air pollution and human waste, we can't have Screamapilar walking at all if we plan to pick him up later, because then the bottoms of his shoes get on our clothes. So I pick him up when we leave the house and I hold him for an hour and a half, setting him down once we're inside the church building.

Carrying him through long transfers can be difficult, so I tend to have him ride on my shoulders. (This gives the passing Chinese anxiety because they're used to toddlers in crotchless pants, so they think I'm taking my life into my own hands.) But the stations weren't built for six-foot-three guys with kids on their shoulders, so he often has to duck to avoid signs. I know which signs are problematic and I reach up to move his head down when needed.

Sunday we were approaching a sign that had never given us trouble before, but for some reason this time, it looked lower. What's more likely is that Screamapilar has grown. Either way, at the last second I reached up to cover his head. I didn't have time to move it, just to provide a protection in case we hit the sign. Which we did, right on the corner, which cut my finger fairly seriously. It hurt from the collision, it hurt from the cut, and now because I've been cut by something filthy in China, my finger is going to die and fall off. It is my right-hand middle finger, which is the one I favor when I need to flip someone off. I can't think of a single time I ever flipped someone off and DIDN'T use my right-hand middle finger. And now that's going to come to an end, thanks to the Beijing metro.

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