Trapped - My Ordeal in the NYC subway | My Family Travels

The dank, frigid odor of the New York Underground flooded our senses as we stepped nervously onto the platform. Our train rumbled on into the black abyss, leaving the five of us glancing worriedly around the station. A handful of sodium vapor lamps breathed a dim yellow glow across the vast platform, and by their light we could see that it was utterly deserted. I shuddered. It was nearly half past midnight, and this was definitely not the place to be.

It was my first Model United Nations trip. Nearly all the other delegates from my school were juniors and seniors, and I, a skinny little sophomore, didn’t know any of them. However, the transition from palm-tree lined Miami to the towering concrete jungle of NYC had been going pretty well so far. I was just getting to know the other delegates, and that night a group of us had gone out to see the City. But as time started passing into the A.M, a few of the senior girls felt tired and wanted to return to the hotel. The Club President, always the chivalrous Galahad, had instructed me to accompany them on the subway ride to the hotel. While I had not expected this duty to be delegated to me (after all, I was the youngest), I had happily agreed to the task —  this was my chance to take the lead.

The four girls and I moved quickly toward the exit, our brisk steps resounding throughout the empty chamber. As we neared the exit, however, I realized something was amiss. The door was chained shut, a massive steel padlock barring us from returning to ground level. We looked around nervously, scouring our surroundings for an exit. The only other one in sight was an unlit stairwell, blocked by a ceiling-high metal grate. We were locked in!

The girls started to become anxious. I myself began to worry that the Transit Authority might have packed up, locked the place and gone home for the night. Impossible, I coaxed myself; the subway can’t be closed. This was the city that never sleeps! It had a reputation to live up to!

Despite whatever tricks the Transit Authority had decided to play on us, we needed to find a way out. Pointless worrying was not getting us anywhere. The Club President had entrusted me to get the girls back to the hotel safely, and I do not renege on my promises. There had to be an exit somewhere; I was going to find it.

We marched along the platform in the reverse direction, chatting constantly to keep warm. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we saw a group of turnstiles and a revolving door. However, as luck would have it, a fluorescent orange barricade blocked us from reaching them. But by now I had had enough. No matter what fearsome danger the barricade was protecting us from (or perhaps we were already on the wrong side of it?), we needed to get out of here.

With a deft exertion of the quadriceps, I clambered over the orange hurdle, helping the girls follow suit. We advanced triumphantly through the turnstiles and up the stairs, embracing the cold city street like old friends after a long absence. A long, deep breath. But the night’s adventures were just beginning.

Our hotel was nowhere in sight.

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