I had been having a great evening right until the point where a guy decided to hang onto the outside of my subway car.
In truth, this had not been the USA's first attempt at outright traumatisation since I had arrived in New York. After being practically welcomed at the American border control, each and every security guard had taken mortal offence to this free pass and jumped on all opportunities to berate me.
By 'each and every' I mean 'two'.
The first had occurred when I had tried to attend a recording of 'StarTalk'; a space- focussed radio show hosted that night by American science educator, Bill Nye (the science guy). It was to be held in a bar/performance venue in Brooklyn and I had acquired a ticket through a friend-of-a-friend who had been unable to attend that evening.
Upon arriving and viewing the impressively long queue, my friend and I were advised to go to the front and show our tickets to the security guard at the door. We were then asked to show identification.
... this was where things got unfortunate.
Since carrying my passport while I was cruising the streets of New York City had seemed like a singularly bad idea, I'd left this vital document in my hotel room. I was carrying a photo ID, but nothing that showed my age. That it was arguably obvious I would be ID'd when going to bar was balanced by the fact I hadn't immediately associated a science show directed by a children's TV star with drunken revelries.
Not only did the security guard refuse me entrance to the radio show broadcast, he then proceeded to lecture me on how it was illegal to not carry identification while in America.
This is complete garbage.
Which was rather upsetting. Plus, I didn't get to hear famous people talking about stars. In short: sadness.
The second event happened two days later when I had gone to visit the astrophysics department in the American Museum of Natural History (they do research like a university: it's just their public outreach department has inflated to a ridiculous size). Upon exiting, I approached a set of doors that appeared to be closed. I therefore turned around to head for the main entrance.
"Ma'am, can I help you?"
Despite the seemingly polite phrase, the tone from the security guard was rather less ingratiating. Since I hadn't done anything surprisingly, it took two repeats of this call before I realised I was the 'ma'am' in question.
"No, I'm fine," i said pleasantly, assuming that this was about the doors being closed. As I knew where the main exit was, there was zero need for guidance. I turned back around.
"Ma'am. Can. I. Help. You."
Apparently, this entire exchange was rhetorical. I stopped again and attempted to look polite, confused and with a side order of 'foreign' in case it would help matters.
"You can't just walk in here through that door!" the security guard snapped at me, gesturing behind her at the exit I had presumed was closed.
I blinked. "I didn't," I said carefully. "I was heading to the door, but I assumed that wasn't a proper exit so I was about to go to the main entrance upstairs."
I hadn't actually approached the doors that closely before doing my 180, so quite why the guard had thought I'd barged right through was somewhat of a mystery. Moreover, I had in fact barged right through those same doors some hours previously and the same security guard had called up to the astrophysics department to allow me to go outside the main museum area. I didn't really blame her for not remembering me, but I was scoring her overall observancy at 3/10.
"You must stop when you're called!" the woman continued to berate me.
Frankly, she seemed to be determined to pin something awful on me. This was again, sad.
I apologised for all crimes I may or may not have committed and left feeling ruffled. I then mooched off to the subway, thinking of all the things I would like to have said to that woman. About half my scenarios involved demanding she called up to the astrophysics department so I could get Bill Nye to come and vouch for me. However, it was a tactic that would have stood more chance of success if I'd actually seen Bill Nye two nights previously.
DAMN YOU, COLLUDING AMERICAN SECURITY GUARDS.
My feathers smoothed out slightly when a friend sent me a quiz to find out which animal poo is your doppelgänger. America, you can still be great.
But then I learnt the inside of subway cars was for sissies.
It was a further two nights later and I had boarded the train at Times Square, when a young man ran for the closing subway doors. His hands grabbed the inside edges as they were sliding together and jammed the doors open with six inches to spare. The people in the subway car ignored him; this drill was well known. The doors would register as unable to close, there'd be a beep and then they'd slide fully open before attempting to shut once again.
Except they didn't.
Rather than clocking there'd been an error, the train began to move with the doors not fully shut and the man still clutching the sides. As he began to move with the train, there were exclamations up and down the car as people began to panic. Then just as the train began to pick up speed, the man let go, falling back onto the platform.
"Did he make it?" I asked a nearby passenger nervously, who had a vantage point about a head above my own.
"Yeah, I saw him get up," he assured me.
It might have been a lie, but let's never find out otherwise.
Mercifully, in another two days, I can flee to Japan before a fresh attack on my sanity.