Crying on the train

What can a person do when they’re feeling helpless and sad? Cry! But what if these emotions are so strong that you can’t help but do it on the train? Well you just go for it, I say.

Yesterday on the F train as I was listening to my iPod, I just turned to my left and saw this woman balling. She wasn’t hiding it, she was letting the tears flow freely and was also listening to something. I wondered if it was something touching that she had heard or if she’d just be handed some bad news.

I didn’t know what to do, she didn’t really look directly at me when she saw me crying, so I just continued listening to my music. But I always feel like talking to people on the subway who are crying. Just have them talk about it. You know?

If you’re reading this and were the woman who was in tears, I feel for you and it’s going to be OK.

If you were in the same situation, what would you do? Would you try to console them or would you just go about your daily business? Because on the one-hand you’re in a space that’s very public and open. Yet crying is a very personal and intimate release of emotions. When the two combine, it’s quite a complex matter, no?

4 Comments so far

  1. The Crying Train | StationStops (pingback) on March 16th, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

    […] Mehta takes up the issue of what to do when you see someone crying on the train on MetroBlogs – which you should check out […]

  2. bopet on March 17th, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    after a PARTICULARLY upsetting weekend visit to my parents, i decided to return to school with a heavy heart and a lot of luggage. i was on the 5 on my way to port authority and all i could do was cry cry cry. there were a few other people on the train, and i felt a little embarrassed, but i really couldn’t stop myself. there was one guy in particular. he was my age and VERY cute and we kept glancing at each other, or.. as i could tell from my sheet of tears. he got off well before we even hit 125th street, but, on his way out the door he said.. "i hope the rest of your week is better than today." It made me smile and I felt a lot better. I know we’re New Yorkers, but we’re also humans. Compassion is always appreciated.

  3. Julia Frey (lajulia) on March 17th, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

    The Los Angeles version of this is to sob in your car. I was having a particularly harsh evening of unhappiness, post 30, where is my life going, no boyfriend angst and was just letting it out, sobbing to beat the band. I was at a red light and heard muffled yelling through my closed windows. Like on the subway, you generally don’t make eye contact to other cars. But the yelling persisted and I looked over and there was this hippie/grunge dude in an old beat up car yelling "You’re OK! You’re going to be OK! You’re going to be fine!" Wow. The light turned green and off he went. It was one of the most touching and coolest things that has ever happened to me.

  4. 7shadows7 on March 17th, 2008 @ 5:40 pm

    This is the topic of one of my favourite poems, written by Les Murray, a contemporary Australian poet. The place names are well known locations in downtown Sydney

    An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow
    by Les Murray

    The word goes round Repins,
    the murmur goes round Lorenzinis,
    at Tattersalls, men look up from sheets of numbers,
    the Stock Exchange scribblers forget the chalk in their hands
    and men with bread in their pockets leave the Greek Club:
    There’s a fellow crying in Martin Place. They can’t stop him.

    The traffic in George Street is banked up for half a mile
    and drained of motion. The crowds are edgy with talk
    and more crowds come hurrying. Many run in the back streets
    which minutes ago were busy main streets, pointing:
    There’s a fellow weeping down there. No one can stop him.

    The man we surround, the man no one approaches
    simply weeps, and does not cover it, weeps
    not like a child, not like the wind, like a man
    and does not declaim it, nor beat his breast, nor even
    sob very loudly—yet the dignity of his weeping

    holds us back from his space, the hollow he makes about him
    in the midday light, in his pentagram of sorrow,
    and uniforms back in the crowd who tried to seize him
    stare out at him, and feel, with amazement, their minds
    longing for tears as children for a rainbow.

    Some will say, in the years to come, a halo
    or force stood around him. There is no such thing.
    Some will say they were shocked and would have stopped him
    but they will not have been there. The fiercest manhood,
    the toughest reserve, the slickest wit amongst us

    trembles with silence, and burns with unexpected
    judgements of peace. Some in the concourse scream
    who thought themselves happy. Only the smallest children
    and such as look out of Paradise come near him
    and sit at his feet, with dogs and dusty pigeons.

    Ridiculous, says a man near me, and stops
    his mouth with his hands, as if it uttered vomit—
    and I see a woman, shining, stretch her hand
    and shake as she receives the gift of weeping;
    as many as follow her also receive it

    and many weep for sheer acceptance, and more
    refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,
    but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,
    the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out
    of his writhen face and ordinary body

    not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,
    hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea—
    and when he stops, he simply walks between us
    mopping his face with the dignity of one
    man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.

    Evading believers, he hurries off down Pitt Street.

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