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“C” Stands For Charcoal

I have a confession to make: the only reason why I study acting is because I plan on making films that will inspire people to murder MTA employees. It has happened before. Do you remember back in the early ‘90’s when that movie “Money Train” came out, and there was that scene where a guy squirted kerosene into a token booth and set the token booth clerk on fire? If you recall, it caused quite a bit of controversy since it sprawled a real life copycat. I was living upstate back then, and I remember thinking, “Wow! That’s horrible!” However, after living in New York City for only a couple of weeks, I quickly learned that the killing of MTA employees is something that should not only be allowed, but encouraged.

There is no longer such a thing as subway tokens; there are only Metrocards. Therefore, the only job duty of a token booth clerk is to say, “I don’t know,” whenever you ask them a question.

“Is the Brooklyn bound F train running?”

“I don’t know.”


“All of my bills are perfectly flat. Why isn’t the machine taking my money?”

“I don’t know.”


“What city are we in?”

“I don’t know.”

Due to the fact that subway tokens no longer exist, a lot of the token booth clerks have been laid off. That’s one way to get rid of them, but I prefer genocide. Non-New Yorkers might find my views on this matter to be a bit extreme, but anyone who rides the subway knows that not only are token booth clerks the most useless people in the MTA, they are the most useless people to have ever walked the face of the earth.

However, the incompetence of MTA employees is not limited to token booth clerks, as was demonstrated the other day by a train conductor. I was on the uptown C train , pondering the various similarities between garlic bread and confetti, when the train stopped at 42nd Street. The conductor came onto the intercom and said, “This is 42nd Street. The next stop is…” She then incorrectly thought that she was speaking into a separate unit when she asked, “What’s the next stop? Is it 50th Street or 59th Street?”

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” I said out loud.

She wasn’t fucking kidding, because she asked two more times! She eventually figured out which device to speak into, and she also figured out that the next stop is 50th Street. It took her about three or four minutes though.

I tried to keep things in perspective by reminding myself that in the southern half of Belgium—Wallonia—they speak French, while residents in the northern half—Flanders—speak Dutch, and in 2001, a train crash killed eight people because the signalmen spoke different languages. However, for nearly four years, I’ve been chronically unemployed/underemployed. The C train is one of those ubiquitous lines that every New Yorker has to occasionally use. Therefore, this leads me to the conclusion that the conductor only moved to New York the day before, and got a job working for the MTA! Even if that were the case,  it only takes a first grade education to be able to read a subway map. I made it all the way to the third grade, so I’m already more qualified than that woman. Of course, if I become a movie star, I’ll be riding a gravy train. I never understood that saying. I also don’t know where it runs. I’m assuming that the gravy train is the G train. “G”  for “gravy.” I’ve rode the G train at least a dozen times though, and not once did I see any gravy.


cc: Lost Boyz

Charles Atlas


October 12, 2004






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