The Danger of Entering an Empty NYC Subway Car!


I made a mortal mistake yesterday. It’s one of those things that every New Yorker is aware of, and only non-knowing amateurs stumble into. Being a seasoned NYC inhabitant I just don’t know what came over me. Maybe it was a moment of blissful ignorance as I was heading home from work with my earbuds in and rocking out to my favorite tunes. Perhaps I just had a brain fart and didn’t realize until it was too late. I did the one thing we all know never to do.

I walked into an empty subway car on the way home from work yesterday.

I should have immediately recognized the tell-tale warning signs. Rush hour crowds on the platform. The crowded subway cars rolling by as the train pulled in. The two adjoined cars before and after it filled with commuters. Whatever made me enter that empty subway car is beyond me, but I did stupidly do it in a blindly bad moment of decision-making. What’s worse is that I did not even realize what I had done before it was too late and the doors closed right behind me. I was oblivious to those entering and running out as if they were getting attacked by a swarm of hornets. As soon as that disgustingly pungent stomach turning aroma hit me I knew I was in a heap of trouble. Yet, escape was not an option. It was too late. 


Here I was trapped in an empty subway car with a strange-looking guy sleeping on one of the benches, and across from him on the other bench was a sight that no man, woman, or child should ever be exposed to. Across from him on the other bench was the most God awful smelly hunk of human excrement I have ever encountered. No, it wasn’t just a pile, it was spread out and smeared over at least three to four feet of seating. All over the place. Everywhere. There was nothing I could do to halt the revolting odor from seeping into my nose, my brain, my clothes, my soul. No wonder everyone else avoided this car. It was literally a “shit show”.

Holy hell in a handbasket what did I just get myself into?

As instinct, and nausea, kicked in I quickly moved to the far side away from this scene. Hoping that we could quickly get to the next stop so I could escape into fresh air I was suddenly terrified at the train conductor’s announcement. “Due to train traffic ahead of us we are experiencing delays. Please be patient.” Are you effing kidding me? Why now? Why me? This is torture! I thought about transferring between the cars as the train was moving through the end door, but of course it was the one that does not open, and is sealed shut. I could view the overly crowded car next door and longingly wished I was in there with them no matter how congested it was. I’d rather stand with people up my ass and be grinded against in fresher smelling air over the abomination that was happening in this car.


Finally, the train started moving forward at a normal pace and rolled into the next station where I dived out as soon as the door opened. As I leaned against the wall gulping in clean oxygen I watched as others ran in and out of that subway car. As a few brave souls entered and stayed inside with the doors closing I wondered what drove them to accept that fate. Madness? Just not caring? Too impatient to wait for the next train? Maybe they like that smell? Ewww…….

All I know is this – never, ever, get in an empty NYC subway car. Unless you can quickly tell by sight and smell that the coast is clear. Enter at your own risk. A NYC Lesson learned. I also think I will never sit down in a NYC subway car again. I’ll stand, thank you.

Damn, that smell is still in my nose days later.

41 thoughts on “The Danger of Entering an Empty NYC Subway Car!”

  1. Eck!…Awful experience> Poor Phil, you don’t deserved it at all! (“There was nothing I could do to halt the revolting odor from seeping into my nose, my brain, my clothes, my soul”~> LOL 😛 ) Have a great week ahead! Aquileana 😀

  2. wow, that’s not cool! almost as bad as when Boomer burps or farts in the car when he’s excited!

  3. I shouldn’t laugh, but I have to. Omg, yeah even us Island girls know not to get into the empty subway or LIRR train car. There is a reason it’s empty and it’s never good. My friend happened to get on an F train I believe, on Friday, and someone tossed their cookies on the floor. What was worse, he said people kept stepping in it, no one cared. Out of sight out of mind, ugh just ugh. Keep your eyes and your nose open dude! 🙂

    1. Hey Paula!

      I used to travel by LIRR. Some of those train bathrooms are like entering the portal to Hell itself.

      Oh, and vomit on the train is a whole other abomination!

  4. Crikey you really came a cropper there Phil.

    I think we all sometimes make repeat mistakes and only once “trapped” in the situation are reminded why we made a dumb decision.

    It sounds pretty awful what you’ve experienced and I wonder how quickly the authorities would have been to clean up the mess. I don’t envy them.

    We all hate overcrowded trains, I certainly try to avoid them if I can and go to the carriages at the end of the platform where it is less busy. I’ll be a little more wary next time.

    Maybe take a scented face mask next time?

    1. Hey Guy!

      I bet you never saw that in all your flights you take and write about!

      Hmmm……maybe I should invest in a gas mask for commuting. Then hope I don’t get arrested as a terrorist!

  5. OMG! Just Ewwww! Arrrgh and Ewwww!
    It must have been horrendous Phil and now I can’t look at your mug without thinking but Ewww! Sadly, it’s not uncommon. Something akin to this but not as smeary, took place in the evening train a couple of years ago. In Berlin. Yes, even in -everything-is-squeaky-clean-and-efficiently-organised-to-the-hilt Germany!

    A raggedly-looking German man in perhaps his late 50’s, tilted his trousers slightly and did a poo! Right there! Nobody noticed at first as I mean, who would do such a thing? In Germany of all places! But the pong was becoming unmistakeable but again, being that this is Germany, nobody made a comment, but people began to pick up their papers & bags and move further into the carriage. I hadn’t noticed at first as I was reading to my then “small” son and thought it was him LOL! As soon as I looked up and saw this old man sitting in front of us and smiling, I carried my son in one arm (actually I dragged him), and discreetly tried to walk to where “the others” were! It was torture & also quite funny as new people swarmed into the carriage & then galloped out again LOL!

    1. Hey Victoria!

      I guess the guy just had to go! When you gotta go, ya gotta go!

      That pretty much sums it up here too. Except we didn’t discreetly move out and over – we ran screaming!

  6. I don’t always cram myself onto the bench of a crowded subway car during rush hour, but when I DO, I make sure to sit next to the old, Chinese, fish-market worker who tilts to his left and let one rip. Right next to me – practically ON me!

    God bless you that you survived! That is one lesson I learned in my high school days… along with never stand next to the guy who keeps smiling at you in the window reflection. Run. Just run… 😉

    1. Hey Lorien!

      Hahaha! I can believe that. I don’t care how crowded or tired I am sitting on the subway is not in the cards for me anymore. At least not for a long time. You never know what happened on that spot you’re sitting on.

  7. Oh good god, this is far, far worse than just your average stinky subway story! Wow, that is so gross. And I wish I hadn’t read it while eating my lunch.

    1. Hey Lydia!

      Every time you take a subway, or even go to eat at Subway, you’ll remember this! Yeah, not really lunch time reading material.

  8. Ahh, I never seem to learn my lesson with this one! I always get so excited that there’s actually seats available, that I don’t think until after I’m in as to WHY. Fatal mistake!!!

  9. I could have gone without reading this yet strangely, I NEEDED this.
    I would have seen that empty car and stepped right on in like you did. I’ll remember this life lesson next time I travel to NY.

    1. Hey Jamie!

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

      It is a strange addiction, right? My weirdo blog posts I mean. Not smelling poop I mean. Just never get into an empty subway car if you see the others around it full!

Feel free to comment! We all have opinions!