We can all agree that we did things as kids we are not proud of; actually if we could take it back, I’m sure we would want a ‘do-over’.
Back in the day, I used to do something that many others in the neighborhood would do too (well most kids anyway)…looking back on it I’m not proud of this deviant side but I wouldn’t take it back.
Not paying your fare to ride the F- train was a frequent occurrence for me. We called it ‘rushing the gate’ or some called it, ‘jumping the turnstile’.
I’m sure there were many reasons as to why I did this but most of the time it was due to empty pockets.
(Compliments of G-Rock Images, Inc.)
As Kevin M. mentioned in the comments section, when I coached basketball at Holy Name on Sunday’s when we were scheduled to play a game at the YMCA my team and I would rush the gate. Yes, the Y on 9th street; we took the train one stop!
At the very young age of 10 I had my first experience with rushing the gate. I was with my late cousin Joe Sabbagh. It was a Sunday morning and Joe had grabbed me on 9th avenue and said, ‘Wanna go to Church’? And I’m like, “huh?”
I thought Joe was talking about regular church, you know, mass with a priest, collection box, prayers and hymns.
We walked down the stairs on Windsor Place and made our way towards the token booth. On the left side of the booth there was a subway map on the wall. Joe stopped ad started pointing at it while the nice gentleman next to us glanced at us and smiled.
“Joe, I thought we were going to church?” I asked.
“I think we have to take the F to Jay Street then transfer for the A across the platform” he explained, while also ignoring me as he kept pointing at the map.
As I heard a train come rumbling into the station downstairs, Joe screamed, ‘LET’S GO STEVIE!’
Watching Joe sprint towards the turnstile and hop over it, I was like, “HOLY SHIT.”
“C’MON, WE’LL MISS THE TRAIN!” he shouted as he moved towards the stairs.
I looked at the token booth clerk and he looked at me.
“HEY, PAY YOUR FARE!” he shouted to Joe as my cousin disappeared down the stairs, leaving me standing alone.
Quickly I made my way to the turnstile and ducked down, and went under.
I made my way down the stairs only to see Joe holding the door open to the train.
As I made my way down the stairs, I heard the clerk scream again, “PAY YOUR FARE!”
I think token booth clerks during their training for the job are taught that mantra.
Boarding the train, out of breath and shaking like a leaf I sat down on the empty, Coney Island bound train and asked, “Joe, I thought we were going to Church?”
As he let the doors close, my cousin looked at me and said, “We are, we only have two stops.” As he sat across from me and laughed.
Looking back, I know it was the wrong thing to do but what could I do? We were all broke and we cherished the challenge.
Tell the truth now, did you ever hop the turnstile or even open the gate and walk through without paying your fare?