We saw a violent altercation between two women this morning on the New York City subway because of H1N1.
The D train was traveling south from Rockefeller Center (50th Street) to Bryant Park (42nd Street) shortly after 8:00 am. One woman, perhaps 5'7", slightly overweight and with dyed reddish blond hair, was coughing without covering her mouth. Maybe it was swine flu, maybe not.
Another woman, roughly 5'2", stocky, with her blond hair in a slicked-back bun, was nearby, clearly displeased. She made a curt comment to the first woman, something to the effect of "you need to cover your mouth -- I don't want swine flu."
The second woman continued to yell at the cougher, berating her until she reacted, beginning to curse back. It escalated, and the accosting woman yelled "get the conductor!"
No one got the conductor -- it just seemed like a shouting match -- but as the train pulled into 42nd Street, the coughing woman spit on the other, provoking what sounded like a punch from the reaction of the crowd (we didn't directly see it). Then the cougher attempted to exit the train as the doors were open, but the second woman grabbed her by the back of the hair, violently yanking her down to the floor.
The last action happened directly in front of us. The cougher got up, yelling and cursing, but was escorted out of the train by what appeared to be a friend. Your correspondent, who had been sleepily reading about CIT's bankruptcy filing, held the shorter woman back, who kept screaming as the second woman left the train.
Mercifully, the train doors closed, separating the two women, and continued to 34th Street.
Most passengers shook their heads at the absurdity of the situation.
But more than a few sympathized with the woman who was coughed on. "She wasn't even covering her mouth," said one woman. "That sh-t was going all over the train."
Added a male witness: "I could have decked her too. That swine flu is treacherous."
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