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Sat In Feces On The Subway

Organized by: Joyce Turiskylie

Joyce's Photo


A while ago, I accidentally sat in feces on the train. This is but one in a string of indignities I have endured due to the NYC subway system.

I wrote a letter of complaint to the MTA about this incident, requested their attention to the cleanliness of the trains, and a reimbursement of $40.86.

Recently, I posted a copy of this letter on my Facebook page. My friends have been commenting on the astuteness of my letter and have been asking me, “Did they ever pay for a new pair of pants?”

No! Indeed they did not.

If I can raise $40.86, this would not only reimburse me for my expenses due to this horrible incident, but would also send a message to the MTA to clean up their trains and stations, treat their commuters better, and stop raising fares while providing less and less service.

In any case, I hope you read the letter I sent to the MTA and continue to push for reform of the bus and subway system.

Thank you.

Joyce Turiskylie

Dear MTA,

I have been riding your subways and busses for the past ten years I’ve lived in New York City. In that time, I’ve endured numerous inconveniences due to your fine organization. But the other day, was the crowning assault.

After ten years in NYC, it finally happened----I accidentally sat in feces on the train.

I say “accidentally” because I felt the need to clarify. Because, though we’ve never met socially, I feel you should know that I am not the sort of woman who walks around searching for a pile of feces to sit upon.

Last Wednesday at approximately 4:10 pm, I left my apartment in Washington Heights.


I have no pets. No babies. No feces anywhere in my Manhattan apartment. I’m tidy like that.

I was happy. Reading my book. A book about tomatoes. A tomato farmer-slash-writer who brings his lovely organic tomatoes down to the Greenmarket in Union Square. For this, I put on my reading glasses. I’m both near-sighted and far-sighted. I wear contacts to correct the far vision, but the contacts mess with my close vision. Of course, the reading glasses then impair my distance sight. In short, I’m vision-impaired. Not exactly Mr. Magoo---but I feel a need to explain how I could possibly have missed what can only be described as a significantly large moist turd on your train.

The train came. Surprisingly---on time. I got on the train and, as always, looked on the seat before I sat down. This is something New Yorkers regularly do on your trains. I think you should know this. This is how disgusting your trains have become. Because when I first reported this incident to friends and co-workers, their immediate response was, “Don’t you look before you sit down on the train?”

Yes. I did. I look. I ALWAYS look. But the seat was orange. And, apparently, whatever substance had been imbibed by the previous occupant and passed thru their digestive system came out somewhat orange-y. And I was wearing my reading glasses…

So I sat down. Happy. Reading about tomatoes. For the twenty-five minute ride from 190th St. to 42nd St.

“How did I not smell it?” you ask. I don’t know. But it’s allergy season. And frankly, the trains always smell like a mix of bleach and poo.

No one around me seemed to detect the scent, either. No one shunned my presence. No leper was I. People sat all around me. Paying me no mind as I blissfully read my book on tomatoes while sitting in a pile of feces.

It was only upon getting off the train, that something seemed awry. The left side of my pants seemed a bit damp. I worried the water bottle in my bag had seeped open; so, naturally, I reached my hand around to feel what could possibly be wrong with the upper left corner of my buttocks…

I felt something moist and sticky. Then, I looked at my hand---my hand that was now covered in FECES!!!

Let’s face it---this is not some innocent leaky baby diaper. This is not someone’s adorable dog or cat so nervous on their first train ride that their bowels immediately let loose a torrent of undigested Greenies.


This---is homeless person doo-doo.

Anyone who rides the subway in NYC knows the problem of the homeless on your trains. And we ALL sympathize with the housing and mental care needs of the homeless. But the past few years, due to cutbacks, the trains have become public toilets. On a regular basis, I see sleeping people pee themselves and the urine runs down the seat and onto the floor; trailing in streams down the car, ebbing and flowing with the vibrations of the train. Commuters yell with disgust and lift their legs as pee rolls beneath them. I’m a pretty liberal gal, but exactly how many Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless do I have to serve up to not be considered bourgeois for not wanting to roll around in their feces?

Even Christ just washed a few feet. Geez. Okay----he did touch some lepers. But, despite the biblical impression, leprosy is really not all that contagious. And, with modern medicine, the leprosy bacteria are killed within a week. Ninety-five percent of the human population is immune to leprosy.

Therefore, I could go out right this minute, stick a condom on a leper, and make sweet, sweet love to that leper all night long….and STILL not be as at risk for infection as sitting down on your train to read about tomatoes.

And, to be honest, I can avoid making love to a leper. I could be in a bar, and a cute leper comes up and buys me a drink and is all like, “Hey baby, I’d like to break off inside of you.”

And I would say, “No thank you, Mr. Leper. I’m not that kind of girl.” Because I’m not. And it has nothing to do with his being a leper and all. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He was just a little too forward. So we will not be doing coffee anytime soon. I’m picky like that.

Due to my good upbringing, I can avoid leprosy. But I cannot avoid riding your trains, which, apparently, come with feces. And while leprosy may put a few of these Don Juans in a leper colony somewhere----feces has brought down entire civilizations!

Here is a short list of diseases caused by human feces:

E coli
Hepatitis (A, B, and C)
Legionnaire’s Disease

I’m not a germ-a-phobe. But FECES ON MY HAND is a whole different ballgame. When I walked into work that day, one of my co-workers later said, “I thought you’d been shot.” She saw the astonished look on my face. The way I was holding out my hands. The dark stain on my pants. I’m a waitress, so I walked into a nice restaurant in Midtown-Manhattan like this. Reeking of poo.

“Don’t seat me,” I quickly uttered as I raced past the hostess. I then proceeded to the handicapped restroom where I could be alone---and yes, I consider feces a handicap. Stephen Hawking would have let me pass.

First, I washed my hands, then quickly removed my pants and underpants and began to wash myself with soap and paper towels.

Luckily, I’m a waitress---which means I have a uniform handy. I put on my black work pants (sans underpants) and exited the restaurant, declaring that I needed to go to the drugstore for new underpants. And yes, I needed underpants. Because to promote the Soup of the Day, I don't feel I should have to go commando.

To make matters worse, the day before, I’d been stricken with whatever intestinal virus was going around. I had called early that morning, reluctantly letting my boss know that I had diarrhea and would be a little bit late. I’m not a woman who normally discusses her bowels in a public forum. But we’ve all been there. And frankly, I couldn’t (in good faith) leave my apartment and trust I would last the twenty-five minute train ride. In short, I’d done everything possible the day before to AVOID sitting in feces on the train. Or leaving it for anyone else to sit in. This is called Being A Responsible Citizen.

But the next day, I found myself wrestling with homeless poopie in the bathroom and washing my fudge-covered hand like an obsessive-compulsive actress portraying Lady Macbeth.

At the drugstore, I purchased a package of three pairs of cotton underpants. Not the undies I’d wear on my third date with Leper Boy, but they were clean. While waiting in line with my granny panties, I couldn’t resist the impulse purchase of a small bottle of hand sanitizer. The clerk took one look at my items….then gingerly reached for the bills in my hand. I’m sure I was all the talk at Duane Reade.

As I walked back to work, all sorts of “what if” thoughts began to swirl around my head. What if I hadn’t had a change of clothes? You can’t walk into The Gap covered in feces? You’d have to stand on the street outside, covered in poo, waiting for a decent-looking stranger to walk by. “Excuse me, ma’am, can you…”

And New Yorkers don’t stop for that. Especially when you smell like poo. But after half an hour or so, maybe one kind soul finally stops.

They probably smell it, so you have to talk fast.

You explain your predicament. And, if they don’t immediately flee…you then, with your one feces-free hand, reach into your pocketbook, pull out some money and hand it over---hoping and praying they won’t abscond with your funds and will return with a pair of pants. Any pants. You don’t really care.

Then, you need to find a bathroom. You head to your nearest Starbucks.

But there’s always a line at Starbucks.

Human beings are trained from birth to hide certain thoughts in order to “fit in” with society, get elected to public office, climb the corporate ladder, snag a mate, and convince our children that there really is a Santa Claus. But no one, but no one, can keep a poker face when smelling feces.

Hamsters can eat sunflowers seeds out of a ceramic bowl filled with rodent droppings and not even bat an eye----but human beings even smell a fart and they lose their minds. Their faces pinch-up and eyes open wide; they hold their breath, and begin to look around the room to identify the offending derriere. However, as intelligent beings, they will at least refrain from speaking. Because, as we all know, he who smelt it, dealt it.

Instead, they snicker. And, as the line for the Starbucks bathroom crawls ahead, strangers around you and your offending britches begin to snicker when they realize that your place in line is now Number Two.

As these doomsday thoughts raced thru my head, word had already gotten around my workplace that I had soiled myself on the train.


Having a gossipy gay boss ensures that NO detail of my “sick day” goes unreported. My reason for tardiness the day before had suddenly manifested itself all over the seat of my pants.

And don’t think I didn’t fear this potential outcome as I walked into work that day.

“Oh my god. They’re going to think I did this.”

Thankfully, there were witnesses to the feces, which was clearly on the SIDE of my pants. As you can see in the handy photo I provided for you. Good people at work squashed the office gossip and swore that it clearly wasn’t my poo at all-----it was someone else’s poo.


Nevertheless, my boss continued to call me “poopy-pants” for the rest of the day.

I noted this incident on my Facebook page. The next day, I was scheduled for Jury Duty---to which, one of my clever Facebook friends retorted, “heh. Jury Doodie.”

That night I was livid. So livid, in fact, that I deposited the pants into four layers of plastic bags with the idea of sending the pants to you. Lucky for you, clearer heads prevailed. My co-worker Valerie suggested that sending hazardous waste material thru the U.S. Mail might be a Federal Crime.


So she might have a point. Though frankly, if I were picked for a jury on a case like this, I would cry for Jury Nullification and find the MTA at fault.

But it is only due to her foresight that you are presently handling my over-written and loosely-edited letter instead of FECES.

By the way---Valerie has her own issues with the MTA. She thinks you’re all crooks. And that someone up there is pocketing a handsome sum every year. And honestly, that’s what most New Yorkers think, as well.

But this isn’t about the rape committed by the MTA. This is about my pants. My pants that I liked. They fit me. They were comfortable. A nice pair of cargo pants I could easily pull out of my closet on a spring/summer/fall day and toss a t-shirt over. Good times. Good times.

Those good-time pants are now headed towards the city dump.

After Jury Duty, I stopped at JC Penny and purchased a new pair of pants. I didn’t go crazy. I got them on sale. $19.99. They’re nice and they fit me and have a comfortable waist band.

JC Penny is a nice place for a big company. They have stores all over the country. And anyone can walk into any of their stores and not even spend a dime. You can just walk in and enjoy the wonderful (though perhaps bland) world that is JC Penny. And on Thursday, I did just that. The entire time I was there, I felt no need for hand sanitizer. No fear that I might try on an item of clothing and come out covered in feces.

How does this huge corporation manage such a feces-free environment without charging anyone to walk in their doors, when it costs $2.25 just to get on the subway?

But I’m in the restaurant business. What do I know?

I do know that if you walked into our establishment, sat down at one of our tables, and wound up in a pile of feces….well, the manager would have been beside himself. He would have apologized. Offered to pay for the dry cleaning bill or a new pair of pants. Would have picked up your dinner tab. And that same, simpering manager would apologize to you all the way out the door.

I’m sure you would expect nothing less.

So, I am holding you to the standards under which I toil and labor. In short, I am enclosing a copy of the receipt for the new pants, and the new underpants and hand sanitizer. I also expect you to “pick up the tab”----the $2.25 I spent on your train that day. It's a matter of principle for me. I don't believe I should have to pay to sit in feces. I am also adding in the time lost at my workplace----the time on the clock, plus a table I missed so I was not able to receive a tip. This brings the grand total to $40.86.

I will be expecting a check for $40.86 in the mail within the next 30 days.

Of course, for my pain and anguish, there is no price. And I will not suggest one. As I said to the leper, “I’m not that sort of girl.”

But I’m also fed up. I sincerely hope this $40.86 will not cause you to declare a need to (once again) increase the subway fare. Tho you probably will anyway.

But after ten years of devoted (though monopolizing service) I think I deserve as much.

Sincerely yours (Really---all yours---because I can’t afford a taxi every day),

Joyce Turiskylie


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Joyce Turiskylie

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