The Longest 30 Minutes of Your Life

What happens when you’re stuck on a subway car.

1 minute in: Oh, of course there’s train traffic ahead or something; you’re only running late for work.

2 minutes in: An announcement is made: signal problems. It’s a best case scenario: stuck where there is phone service. Time to start checking work emails.

3 minutes in: Cell service means loud phone calls by at least 3 people in the same subway car.

4 minutes in: You should probably text your boss, or let someone know where you are.

5 minutes in: 2 trains have passed on the local track.

6 minutes in: You shouldn’t have taken the book out of your bag this morning, even if you had podcasts to listen to.

7 minutes in: Another announcement. Still signal problems. Don’t know why the MTA conductor needs to remind everyone.

8 minutes in: What are you feeling? Is it hunger or anxiety? Both?

9 minutes in: Identical texts have been sent to at least 8 people out of boredom. No responses. Another announcement about signal problems.

10 minutes in: You take a picture of passing train for Snapchat. You will be silently judged by at least 3 other passengers. It’s blurry anyway, so you quickly delete it.

11 minutes in: Are there any more announcements? You kind of miss the vaguely annoyed conductor.

12 minutes in: Suddenly, you have to pee desperately.

13 minutes in: No one responded.  Yet another announcement about signal problems. This time the conductor mentions that a team has been dispatched to assist the train. You may die on this train.

14 minutes in: You start thinking about the contents of your bag. If this becomes a Snowpiercer situation, you wonder if you’ll make it out alive.

15 minutes in: Why hasn’t anyone responded? Should you resend? Are you sliding further and further away from reality?

16 minutes in: A loud phone call has turned into a full argument at the far end of the subway car.

17 minutes in: 3 more trains have passed. Meetings have been rescheduled. Coworkers are sending supportive emails. Life goes on without you. An existential crisis begins.

So close, and yet so far.
So close, and yet so far.

18 minutes in: You start to wonder if anyone would notice if you peed yourself. You remember the full day of work ahead of you, and think, it’s only been 6 minutes, you’ll be fine.

19 minutes in: The team still has not arrived to assist the train. You are not surprised.

20 minutes in: You see another train pass that you could’ve been on if you’d transferred to a local train like your heart told you to do, instead of being lazy.

21 minutes in: You notice the display has turned off. THERE IS NO DESTINATION FOR THIS TRAIN, WE’RE ALL DOOMED.


22 minutes in: By some magic, the train begins to move. Joy fills your heart.

23 minutes in: The train moves 100 feet and then stops again. That joyful flame is quickly extinguished.

24 minutes in: You should be napping. Why aren’t you napping?

25 minutes in: The train has made it to the next local stop, but is still technically stuck. You still have to pee.

26 minutes in: No one is responding to emails anymore. Is this what being invisible feels like?

27 minutes in: The woman across from you has been asleep for a solid twenty minutes. Seriously, why didn’t you nap?

28 minutes in: Train has moved underground. No longer have cell service. Worst fears realized.

29 minutes in: Another conductor announcement. Signal problems. Train is operating at lower speeds but will be moving shortly.

30 minutes in: Train has arrived at next express stop. Conductor announces, “You’d be better off transferring right now.” Doors open and people sprint across the platform to the waiting local train.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.


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Karishma is a twenty-something living in New York City and is trying her hardest to live out every cliche about Millennials. This involves eating her feelings, drowning in debt and mocking infomercials. She likes sociology so much that she has two degrees in it, and is still warding off her parents' questions about a real career.

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