F and Q Train Life

A few days ago I was on the Q-Train again – after 8 months of abstinence. I used to live on one of its stops but then I moved to an area which is on the F-Train. I had almost forgotten about the Q-train’s crowd and the people who board the subway every day. I remember how I really hated getting into the B and the Q in the morning or during rush hour after work because of the people on it. However, yesterday it was a nice change to take the line again and it made me compare the persons on there to the ones riding the F-Train.

Q-Train Park Slope

The Q-train was basically my very first stable and standard train I took from my first month here until December (that’s when I moved). It goes from Coney Island all the way up to Astoria in Queens and takes commuters from the deepest point of Brooklyn to the heart of Manhattan, if desired. Its tracks lead past the Russian neighborhoods around Brighton Beach, the Jewish communities in Midwood, the Haitian families around Prospect Park, and Brooklyn’s richer elite in Park Slope all the way up to Central Park in Midtown. It gives its travelers the chance to get to work on time or to stop by at some of New York’s best sightseeing spots. Directly from the depth of Chinatown at the Canal Street Stop it takes them to the Latin neighborhoods who are enriched by their own exotic culture in Queens.
But the very best part about the Q-Train is the view you have when crossing the Manhattan Bridge. Words cannot express it as this picture will but it is definitely the sight of the Manhattan skyline so close by that still, after over one year of being here, makes my heart pound faster once the trains exits the underground tunnel and steers toward its destination. It continues to give my journey to the City sense and to take my breath away once I rest my eyes on this unique scenery. Night and day will give you two completely different views, but both are equally exiting.

Manhattan Skyline from the Q
Manhattan Skyline from the Q
Manhattan in the fog
Manhattan in the fog

As you can tell, the Q-train is originally diverse. I have seldom seen so many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds than on this train. And surprisingly, I have even less witnessed a fight on the Q despite these different backgrounds being squeezed into each other each every morning and evening, forced to look a complete stranger in the eye or being exposed to a body distance that can be regarded as uncomfortable in other circumstances.

The F-Train hosts a very different crowd. Forget about the Haitian, Russian, and even Latin groups. What you have left is a standard ride on this transportation. Just like its yellow counterpart, it also leads from Coney Island all the way up into Manhattan. It doesn’t stop at the border of Queens, though, but goes even further and hereby forms the train that leads the furthest into Queens with its final stop being Jamaica. From here you can access a bus or take a taxi to get to the airports LaGuardia and JFK.

I live close to two of the stops the F makes in Park Slope. When I enter the train in the morning it is usually already crammed full and I can barely get a seat, of course. On my way to Midtown, the train makes several interesting stops: Cobble Hill, Dumbo, the heart of Chinatown at East Broadway, and along the Village and Chelsea up to Herald Square. The Park Slope stops are home to people in their twens or parents with younger children. You get to hear French fathers practicing conversation in their native language with their stubborn childs or dark nannies taking care of blonde infants. The snobbish and stressed people get in at Cobble Hill and they take almost every single standing spot left in this train. From there on, the ride turns into an adventure of trying to find your balance while searching for something to hold on. A crowd from the midst of Brooklyn joins at Jay-St Metrotech, coming from the A and C lines. Even though both blue lines don’t have a great vibe, the F train is not affected by this through its newly-gained commuters.

Some creative people walk into the train in Dumbo at York Street. If you get off here, you should take a nice stroll down to the Brooklyn Bridge and the two parks around it. The commuters who are the most interesting come into play in the Lower East Side: Unique looking, younger artists, bartenders, or simply people who have the air of enjoying their lives.
At W4 the madness starts as travelers are jumping out of the car to either dive into an express orange line or to run upstairs to catch the blue lines, which are running along 8th Ave.
During the entire ride you don’t see any skyline or view on Manhattan. You get to know Brooklyn better from Smith-9th St on, because the train sometimes runs above the ground from then on.

A positive thing about the F is that its energy is decent. The Q was transmitting angry vibes on most mornings I took it. I hardly even wanted to bump into anyone because I was scared this might make some Haitian woman yell at me. From Parkside Ave on the doors let in socially disadvantaged mommies with their not-very-well-behaved children. I hated it! I didn’t know where to look and what to think of these people. On the F I feel more like where I belong. Sure, you got your share of rude people, I’ll give you that! But as long as you don’t experience the fear of being harassed or screamed at, you’re good on your commute.

When I took the Q again earlier this week, I felt that their crowd might still be very much interesting and it is definitely still unique in my eyes.
Trains in New York- they tell their own story.