Since I got to the train station late today, I had to park in the no-man’s land on the north side of the tracks. When you get off the train in the afternoon, you have to either wait for the train to finish unloading and go through the level crossing or take your chances in The Tunnel.
The Tunnel is feature unique to the Bay Shore station. Think of a pedestrian tunnel, except that its tile floor and concrete walls have been splashed with several gallons of eye-watering black bear urine. It’s not always like that – sometimes the LIRR cleaning crew comes by and pours a few ounces of sour apple-scented disinfectant on top of it. There have been mornings where I’ve seen people emerging from that tunnel in tears, screaming in disbelief, or rubbing their rosary beads.
So the point of this is that I needed to take my chance in The Tunnel. The only way to do this is to work your way to the front of the door that’s going to open up nearest the steps, so that you can be the first person to get out and in. Otherwise, you’re stuck walking behind someone who read about The Tunnel in their Fodor’s, convincing them to take a leisure walk through it as you fight back the retching. Today I was first out. I made a break for the damp, tiled stairs, and got all the way to the second from last one. The Tunnel was flooded. There was about 6” of fetid, brackish water on the floor, with a Corona bottle in a paper bag bobbing silently as a buoy, warning all passers-by away from the imminent danger contained on its shoals.
I turned and ran up the stairs, warning the other passengers, who for the most part didn’t believe me until they saw the lake themselves. The train passed through and the gates went up, so I was able to get to the other side. Everyone followed my lead, except for one rather large gentleman who was wearing boots for some reason, and who managed to sidestep the ocean floor below on his way through. Or maybe he was actually down there doing some clamming – I didn’t bother to ask what this obviously disturbed guy was thinking.