Subway Diaries

A short animation take on the Metropolitan Diaries (New York Times) series
By Rebecca Melman and Ami Mehta

Subway Diaries

It’s an average day on the L train in New York City. You swipe your card at the turnstile. “ Please Swipe Again” it says. You notice you were holding your MetroCard upside down. You sigh, frustrated. You then take a moment to decide that today, you will not look down at your phone the whole train ride. You swipe again, slowly and carefully, and make your way onto the platform. “The next L train is arriving in 1 minute.” Perfect timing, you think to yourself. The train arrives, the doors open and you take a seat at your preferred spot, on the end of the bench. You notice that the train is a little more empty than usual. It is the L train after all. Notoriously crowded. You pull your phone out habitually, but stop yourself. Look around, pay attention to the people around you, maybe you’ll see something that will inspire your animation project.

You see a young man in a grey hoodie and Mets hat, sleeping, with a soft smile on his face. At the next stop, your typical motorcycle driving, leather jacket wearing tough guy enters the train. He has a bald head and goatee, black jeans and boots. You see him staring at the sleeping young man. You wonder to yourself why he’s staring so intently at your sleeping friend. Things in New York have been tense lately, so you start to get a little bit nervous. When the tough looking guy sits down, he pulls out a notepad and pencil from his pocket. He sits down and puts his pen to the paper. You try to get a look at what he’s drawing. When you see his eyes, he is still staring at the young man sleeping. Looking down at his paper, he’s sketching the young man. You look to the young man and see his eyes fluttering. Will your artist friend have time to finish the drawing before he wakes up?

You look away from the scene for a moment, and when you return your gaze, you see the young man waking, and the tough guy standing up, preparing himself to get off the train. As he walks out the subway doors, you see him handing the sleepy young man a rolled piece of paper. You presume its the drawing he just made. You look up and notice its your stop too. You scramble to get up and run off the train. You spend the rest of your day thinking about what was on the rolled paper. How did the young man react to his likeness? Will he put it up on his wall? You then realize, What a great story for my animation project.

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