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Q Train  | © MTA/Flickr
Q Train | © MTA/Flickr
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The Most Terrifying Tales from the New York City Subway

Picture of Nikki Vargas
Travel Editor
Updated: 19 October 2017
There are a handful of topics all New Yorkers can instantly bond over: a debate on where to grab the best pizza, woes about the sky high rent prices, where we were on 9/11 and, of course, our tales from the NYC subway.

No matter who you ask, every New Yorker has a a handful of subway stories whose absurdity is typically chalked up to that all encompassing sentiment: “that’s just so New York.” While a subway commute in cities such as Paris may prove predictable and routine, in New York the subway is a veritable sardine can of people from every walk of life, just pressed into one another’s smelly armpits.

If it weren’t for the constant delays or the hair-pulling frustrations of switch malfunctions and train traffic, a subway ride in New York could (almost) prove a beautiful mosaic of human life. Instead, our train experiences become trading cards of who has had the wildest commute. In light of all things that are spine-tingling and hair rising this October, we have compiled the scariest, grossest and downright unusual subway rides experienced by these anonymous few.

E Train | © MTA/Flickr
E Train | © MTA/Flickr

A subway ride he’ll never forget…

“I once saw a woman defecate on the subway platform. She just threw her pants down, squatted, and let it all out. My 12 year old brother was visiting at the time and I don’t think he’ll ever think of the subway the same way again…” – Anonymous

The case of the woman and the stick

“The only time I’ve been truly terrified was when a crazy woman came through my subway car holding a long wooden stick she’d sharpened at one end. She was ranting incoherently and jabbing her sharpened stick at people; it looked as though she was choosing just the right person to stab with it. I jumped off the train at the next stop and walked an extra twelve blocks to my destination.” – Anonymous

Union Square subway platform | © Colin Mutchler/Flickr
Union Square subway platform | © Colin Mutchler/Flickr

The man and the knife

“The one time I was scared on the subway was when a homeless man, who was sitting at the end of the car muttering to himself aloud, suddenly whipped out a switchblade and began brandishing it wildly. He made no sudden movements or indications that he was going to hurt anyone, rather he was sort of threatening the…air, but I still moved quickly to the opposite side of the train.” – Anonymous

Every person’s nightmare

“A good friend of mine was relatively new to New York City, having moved here from Pittsburgh. He was sitting down, riding the subway, when he suddenly felt a stinging sensation in his back. To his horror, he discovered that a used hypodermic needle that had been wedged in-between the seats had broken his skin. In a panic, he got off on the next stop but only made it to the platform, where he fainted.” – Anonymous

An inappropriate encounter…

“I was in grad school, taking the 2/3 uptown to Columbia, and reading po-mo feminist scholar, Judith Butler. When I look up there was a penis in my face. A man was flashing me; let’s just say he got real up close and personal. He darted out of the train, no one said a thing, which was all very ironic considering the subject of my book. “– Anonymous

Witnessing an odd conversation

“Not so much scary as it is odd, I was riding a Manhattan bound train from Queens when in walks a man clearly drunk or on some sort of drug. The man sat opposite me and pulled out a hair brush, which (and I kid you not) he began to have a conversation with. I wasn’t able to make out the specifics of his one sided conversation, but will always remember that image of a man deep in dialogue with his comb.” – Anonymous