Last Friday, an email entered my inbox with the can't-miss subject line of "SNAKES ON A TRAIN." The urgent note was from a friend of Time Out, Eddie, and detailed a vomit-inducing situation he found himself in earlier that afternoon.
Upon boarding a Manhattan-bound L train at Bushwick-Aberdeen, Ol' Eddie discovered a woman holding what appeared to be a living python. During any given trip on the New York subway, one could expect to encounter a mariachi band, a rotting stool or a human clipping their toenails. A snake seems like business as usual.
The fact that Eddie saw a snake on the train wasn't what was gross about his story. It's what happened next that could give the most tunnel-hardened New Yorker the willies.
Soon after sitting down, Eddie realized that the snake did not belong to the woman at all. She had been talking to a tatted-up man wearing a Rolling Stones baseball cap who was sitting adjacent to her, and he was its owner. Eddie knows that the man was the creature's keeper because he proceeded to pull chunks of molting skin off of the thing.
Here's what it looked like:
Eddie says that everyone sitting next to the snake-skinner moved a few seats down once they realized what was happening. While his photo isn't the most audacious photojournalism effort, he noted that he wanted to be discreet.
"I figured he'd probably be on high alert, because you don't just walk onto a train with a snake and not be at least a little paranoid," he said.
The other passengers who boarded the train after the skinning had already commenced were just as bewildered.
"One woman walked onto the train mid-shedding and gave this look of, 'Oh, of course I walk onto the snake train,'" Eddie says. "She got off immediately."
The snake-wielding man eventually exited the train at Bedford Avenue, presumably knowing that his pet snake would have caused a bit more commotion in Manhattan.
While it isn't uncommon people to help their assist their pet snakes in molting, you'd be hard-pressed to find a veterinarian who would recommend doing so on a rush hour subway car.
At the same time, I'd take 1,000 shedding snakes over the imminent L shutdown.