Essay One

New York City in Transit

Two dueling forces characterize daily life in New York City: movement and waiting. We are constantly trying to get somewhere, and yet so often we find ourselves waiting–at the bus stop, in traffic, in line to get a bagel. We dodge tourists looking up at the Flat Iron because we’re late for class, and then we wait in the line for the elevator, tapping our feet.  We stand in the moving subway or bus or train with nothing to do, waiting for our stop to come. And while we are waiting and moving in the subway or on the sidewalk or in the bus, sometimes we take a moment to notice how strange the whole thing is. Public transportation is, when it comes down to it, weird. It is boring. It is surprising. It is at once monotonous and infinitely varied. How much time a day do we spend within inches of perfect strangers? Why do they put the advertisements up near the subway’s ceiling instead of at eye level? How creepy would I be if I read that guy’s newspaper over his shoulder?

In three to four pages, give your reader a sense of how you experience New York City by exploring your relationship to its transit system. I mean “transit system” broadly: after all, there is a system to the way that people use the sidewalks, even if its intrinsic rules are not always followed. You can fulfill this assignment in a variety of ways. For instance, you can tell a story about one particular trip or group of trips; you can describe your neighborhood and how you navigate it; or you can use your experiences to teach someone else how to navigate one or more New York City transit system(s).

Above all, be specific. What can you see, hear and smell during the particular moment you are describing? If you are outlining a certain unspoken rule, did you develop it based on your own experience, an urban myth, or something else entirely? Finally, keep in mind that I have absolutely no way of verifying that what you’re saying actually happened–or that it actually happened to you–so don’t worry too much about accuracy. I’m not looking for something that is necessarily true in the factual sense, but rather something that is recognizable, revealing and fun to read.

Nuts and Bolts:

  • This paper must be between 1,050 and 1,400 words–approximately three to four pages.
  • As with all papers for this class, this one should be written using MLA formatting: Times New Roman, 12 point font, double spaced. Refer to the Purdue OWL website or my MLA Mini-guide if you have any questions.
  • Here is the rubric by which you will be graded.
  • The draft workshop will take place on Wednesday, September 10th.
  • The final paper is due via on Wednesday, September 17th.

Comments are closed.