Subway Pizza Lady



The other morning, I was sitting across from the subway door when a well-dressed 30-ish woman with a dark suit, heels and a shiny, well-bobbed head of hair slipped in as the closing door just missed grazing her back. She held a cup of coffee in one hand and a delicious-smelling wedge of pizza in the other, while balancing a heavy briefcase that hung from her shoulder on a wide strap. She had arranged her fingers so that they held the pizza flat, her index finger making sure that the pointed end did not droop.

As the train lurched, I imagined being spattered with tomato sauce and scalding coffee, but the woman loped past me like an athlete and settled in a corner, standing, feet and legs arranged to brace against jolts. The pizza was still held flat and the coffee undisturbed. She slipped the end of the pizza into her mouth and proceeded to eat it with the grace of Emily Post. She then bit off the recessed plastic triangle in the top cover of the paper cup and, holding the coffee in her left hand, she used her right hand to fold the triangle into her napkin. After dabbing her mouth with the neat square, she slid it into a side pocket of her briefcase. Next she took out a lipstick holder, flipped up the top with her thumb, let it slide into her palm and applied red coloring to her lips. Yes, she was still drinking coffee using her other hand.

She looked at her watch and at the next stop left the train. The rest of us looked at one another and smiled, acknowledging our admiration in the way a collective consciousness sometimes develops among riders.

Emilie C. Harting