It being that time of year when New Yorkers are nice and all, I sign off for the Christmas holidays with this bit of seasonal cheer from the New York Times’ Metropolitan Diary.
One night in late October, as I was riding a packed express subway on the 2 and 3 lines, a seat opened up. A man in his 30s went for the open seat and, in doing so, pushed aside the jacket of a younger man who was already sitting. The seated man said something like, “You have no right to touch my property.” The older man replied angrily, “This is a public place.”
An argument immediately ensued, and, after a brief silence, the older man yelled at the top of his lungs, “I’m going to punch you in the face!”
The younger man quickly got up and joined the stare-down, exchanging threats; each was waiting for the other to throw the first swing.
Just as the tension came to an apex, a petite woman, probably in her 50s, yelled even louder: “Will you two shut up!”
The entire train, including the two arguing men, stopped and looked at this little woman as she continued to fulminate: “What’s wrong with you two? You are acting like children!”
The two men actually looked ashamed. The woman then demanded that they apologize to each other; I couldn’t believe it when I saw the younger man offer his hand to the other. The older man, somewhat reluctantly, and with his head down, shook his hand.
As if that weren’t enough, the woman then insisted that the two men apologize to the entire train car.
At this, the passengers broke into applause.