Archie Strikes Again

It always happens just when I’m feeling most insecure about carrying a dog in a sling over my shoulder through the NYC subway system. Just when I’m pushing my way down the stairs against traffic and the eyes of annoyed passengers are daggers full of scorn and judgment. Just when I’ve found myself at a loss for words to describe (explain? rationalize?) to a dear friend why I won’t leave him in the car.

And it happened again this morning.

We get on the parked Q train at 57th and before we can sit down on the empty train a woman calls out to me. She has stopped on her way out of the station. She has separated from the leaving herd and come over to us.

And she tells me that she was having a really bad morning until she saw Archie.

Naturally, I bring him over and he (despite the panting) is happy to be petted. She tells us she’s a photographer and that she was having a really, really bad morning (which is saying something for 8:00am) until she saw us coming down the stairs.

She thanks us, though we did nothing, and leaves with a big smile to go about her day.

She feels better. I feel better. Archie strikes again.

Carry Me

One of the responses I get from people on the subway when they see Archie is some version of “I wish I could be carried like that.”

Now, maybe its a sign of the growing waistline of America and maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never really wanted to be carried around or thought of that as pleasurable.

The litter, palanquin or sedan chair does have a long history around the world, but has mostly been reserved for royalty. And while Archie may disagree, he is decidedly not royal in any sense of the word. The sounds (and smells) he makes are an example of his pedestrian roots.

Does this kind of comment arise from the fact that my fellow commuters are just plain exhausted? Possibly. Archie and I make regular subway runs during rush hour when folks are just waking up or burn out from the work day.

Or is it some fantasy of being royalty? The illusion of being carried through the masses, held aloft, praised (and despised) but always above the fray, above the dirt, off the ground as if flying.

It is certainly not my favorite thing to do — to carry Archie. I think it’s safe to say it isn’t his favorite thing either. He’s too stubborn and proud to enjoy being carried. We’d both be happier if the MTA just gave in and allowed dogs. Anyone who has been a keen observer of the clientele of the MTA subway system quickly realizes that dogs would in no way contribute to the decline of the system or reduce the overall level of humanity.

Really.

I saw a man push a woman out of the way on the stairs the other day and then they got into a shouting match about it.

A walking Archie may actually improve the level of discourse on the subway.

But I digress. The real issue, one I cannot understand, is the desire to be carried. The wish for some sort of relaxation or dislike of walking. A wish that I, as someone who loves walking, who loves having his boots on the ground, never really considered.

Perhaps it’s connected to flying. The dream of flight. This dream is somewhat universal as I understand it so combined with exhaustion it could explain the desire to be carried through life.

I guess the main thing that I find weird is something more personal. The idea that by carrying Archie, I’m pampering him. And then by extension, I’m the type of person who pampers their pet. When in fact, I’m just adhering to the rules of subway (barely).

And sure, Archie is spoiled in many regards, but being carried is certainly not on the list.

I think, for me, it’s the snap judgment about me as a person based on the dog. I’m sure this happens all the time for a variety of reasons, but this particular judgment, this particular perception seems to rub me the wrong way.

God on the Uptown #3 Train

Sometimes you meet the most fascinating people — in the strangest situations.

Exhibit #1: The 75 year old man i met on the uptown #3 on Friday night.

He pushed his way onto the train — along with me — and when a person behind us got caught in the doors and pulled himself back out, said, “I guess he didn’t want to ride with the common herd.”

You have to be open to experience and I was coming from band practice and I was in a good mood so I responded and we were off.

It turns out he has seven kids (by different mothers) and one of the things he said to his daughter was, “You’re never too young to die””

She used to tease him about all the things like that he said to her.

She died 3 weeks before her 19th birthday.

And like a good father he whipped out his wallet and showed me her picture.

She was a beautiful young woman.

And this is where we started talking about God. (Coincidentally, the same day, it was released that Mother Teresa even had doubts about God’s existence.)

The man’s birthday is on September 3rd and he wished my a happy holiday (for what I’m not sure — maybe the weekend?).

He said he’s never late to work and he’s never taken a day off work when he wasn’t sick (and he doesn’t get sick).

And that was our brief, yet poignent conversation heading uptown on a crowded subway on a summer’s Friday night.