Take the A Train

I’ve seen scenes like this in movies, and it does seem sensible when taking a kid on the transit to have an emergency meet-up plan.

But some questions:

— Can our New Yorkers, or anyone familiar with the subways there, comment on whether the described trains or routes, and geography, make at least approximate sense? Not so much “Is it a wise plan for these people?” as I figure it is not, but things like whether there is a station called “Eastern Parkway” and the Brooklyn Museum is right by their doorstep..

— And for CIDUers anywhere, is the joke in the complexity of the plan? Is the “under 3” bit because he’s still thinking about diiscounted admission to the museum, or because it would help with the rescue?

Bonus riddle: “My friend Gloria threw up on the subway on Monday”. What life-lesson familiar saying cab we take from that?


  1. That route does work. The A line will take you to the Port Authority terminal on 42nd street, where you can transfer to the 2, which does stop at Eastern Parkway station near the Brooklyn Museum.

    You’re right that the joke is in the complexity of the plan. This is about an hour’s worth of travel through two NYC boroughs, including a transfer in a busy and confusing station, and then finding the museum and buying a ticket. The thought of a toddler doing it independently is absurd.

    It might also be playing on the idea that school-age children in NYC may ride the subway themselves. Those kids don’t ride it nearly this far, and of course they’re a lot older than 2.

  2. The joke on the main one is that New Yorkers are so subway-savvy that even a two-year-old can utilize it as naturally as walking down the street. (Perhaps more so.)

    The under-3 is so he doesn’t have to pay to get in to meet up with his dad, though the Brooklyn Museum lets anyone under age 20 in free (and even for ticketed exhibitions, it’s under age 4 free).

    As for the subways, the A train’s 42nd Street stop is at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The 2 train’s 42nd Street stop is a block east at Times Square. So it’s a one-block walk between the two, though I imagine a New Yorker wouldn’t consider that a huge barrier.

    I got nothing on the bonus riddle.

  3. Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum is accurate, but the A at 42nd doesn’t connect directly to the 2, you have to take the Shuttle over. So this child is never escaping the Subway System.

  4. It has just the right verisimilitude to let you ignore the details and get the joke of over-complexity: I used to ride the A train every work day from Port Authority (when it came before the C or the E — A is express, C & E are locals, though in the end you only skip two stops with the express…), and I didn’t notice that, yeah, the 2 does not stop at 42nd by the Port Authority end (though you can walk underground for the block within the station to where you could catch it, so technically, you can transfer there (I would suggest Columbus Circle instead*); the 1, 2 & 3 (red) and the A, C, & E (blue) both run north/south on the west side of Manhattan, so, yeah, close enough — I didn’t need the 2, and can’t even tell you if it’s local or express.

    *I looked it up, 2 is an express, and Columbus Circle is a local stop (for the 1 only), so you can only transfer to the 1 there, though I still think it’s easier to do that and then transfer to the 2 once you’re on the 1, 2, 3 line than it is to walk through the tunnels of the 42nd St. station…

    PS: Mornington Crescent!

  5. @Pete and @Shrug: Congrats, you both have the bonus riddle answered correctly — with or without translation!

    Also @Pete, the “cab” in the statement of that riddle was just my typo, not noticed until just now. But when I first saw your post saying just “Cab?” I took it for a lateral-thinking approach to the main cartoon, suggesting that the father could replace the whole detailed subway plan with one involving “just go up and take a taxi to the Museum”.

  6. For unknown reasons, some three comments for this thread, from two commenters – none of them first-time addresses – ended up not just in Pending but in Spam. That requires noticing a valid posted comment amid the chaff, un-spamming it (which puts it in Pending), and releasing it from Pending.

    WordPress does flag us to notice comments waiting in Pending, but of course the opaque Akismet spam handler does not say “I’ve got some that probably were mistakenly called Spam”. So it may take a while to get noticed and pulled out. Apologies to the commenters for those delays. And also, because “rescued” comments get sorted into the thread by the time they were originally submitted, readers who rely on the standard web page presentation (rather than email notification or WP Reader mode) are encouraged to scroll back once in a while to see if some comment has been added not-at-the-end.

  7. Ahh… I get it now, Gloria was sick on the transit system on Monday, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”, so passes the glory of the world, (worldly glory is fleeting). As I understand it, Latin word order is flexible, so wouldn’t it be better as “Sic Gloria Transit Mundi”? Or even “Mundi Gloria Sic Transit”?

  8. One would keep “gloria mundi” in that order, but the verb “transit” is often found at the end. Were I to change the sentence, I’d make it “Sic gloria mundi transit.” or “Gloria mundi sic transit”.

  9. “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.” That’s the motto of MHI (Monster Hunters International), a great book series by Larry Correia. I love the first lines: “On one otherwise normal Tuesday evening I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth-story window.” 🙂

  10. Oh, and the joke is surely that no one sane would give that kind of complicated directions to a toddler. You pray the kid has learned your cell number and you teach them to find a cop or security guard or maybe even a Mom to help them call you so you can find them. My son (who was more like 10) almost got on the wrong train in Chicago, and so we immediately had a detailed discussion about what to do if that ever happened again.

  11. Yeah, that’s the overwhelmingly common version. Enough that it is sometimes “STGM”. I never took Latin, so I don’t know what the grammatically-correct version is.

  12. Kids are really good at learning things if they are interested in the subject. I wouldn’t be surprised at a kid of just about any age finding the best route through the subway.

  13. Years ago, I played a text adventure game (that wasn’t Infocom!) called Amnesia. You had to get around part of Manhattan by subway. I felt that had I gone to NY I could have gotten around just fine, assuming the subway information in the game was accurate.

  14. Robert worked in Manhattan full time for well over a decade and he would not follow any of this. (He worked out here on Long Island afterwards until his early retirement.) One problem being that when we went to work he rode the same route every day to and from Penn Station and his job.

    Back when my job was a full time job I would go into Manhattan less than 10 days a month. My clients, however were all of the borough from an MD in the east 60s down to several jewelry places in store and in jewelry exchanges near Chinatown. So i knew how to go from one place to another as I might be more than one (to several) the same day. I knew the Manhattan part of the subway map almost by heart. Now I have one business client left and she is in midtown in a Jewelry exchange on 47th Street – not as good as I used to be at how to get from here to there. (Park in Queens, take subway into Manhattan – garage is one stop from Manhattan though have to ride 3 stops to her location.)

    So if we went in to Manhattan to see a show or walk around, etc. I would be the one to get us on the correct trains to get from place to place – still am, but I need to check the map on the wall now (or at least back in normal times.)

    So – maybe part of the joke is that they ride the subway so often to so many places, the boy despite being young knows the subway system at least enough to follow the instructions from his father.

  15. Once way back – before there were cell phones and my dad was still alive, I was working at client in Manhattan. Robert was off from work that day and he was coming in to Manhattan later in the day to walk around and we would have dinner and see a Broadway show (back when one did not need a loan to do so).

    Our idea of how to stay in touch was to call my dad at our office and leave messages. How we ever managed to actually find each other I still marvel. Message transmitted to me by dad was that Robert would meet me at “the booth”. Did this mean the half-price tickets booth? Did this mean “the Booth” theater (its name)? I kept walking backing and forth the two hoping to find him and calling my dad and leaving messages hoping Robert would call him again – “If he calls again tell him to go to the TKTS booth and I will find him there”.

    Yes, we did manage to find each other – somewhere on one of the streets between the two locations. It is one of the things which really make appreciate our cell phones. I was at the point where I was going to work around the streets yelling his name when we met up.

  16. Robert just came down for late night, prebed snack and I mentioned this post.

    He reminded me that when he was little he was told over and over that he got off the subway at the station with the gum machine – he points out that many subway stations had same – his being Sea Beach.

    Between this conversation and his grandmother running into their apartment upset because she had a nightmare that she lost him on the subway – had him terrified of being lost for some time – something of which he has not completely gotten recovered yet in his 60s.

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