I drove to the New York Hall of Science with my children and found the usual driveway to the parking lot barricaded. A woman wearing the uniform of a U.S. Open worker stood there. There was no reason for her to be there. The Hall of Science has no tennis courts.
She quickly waved through a hotel shuttle bus but then blocked our van.
“Do you have a membership here, sir?” she asked me. I informed her that I did.
“Then you’re technically behind this guy,” she motioned to a man with car by the curb. “We’re waiting for spaces to open up. We only have 25 spots today.” I’m not sure who the ‘we’ was in this equation. “You can wait behind this gentleman or you can try street parking.” She offered to hold my place in line if I wanted to try driving around to find street parking first. Knowing the area, I could tell that was a lost cause.
The woman was exceedingly polite, as polite as one can be while telling someone that you’re getting paid to help screw people out of a trip to the science museum so pampered jerks can pay to watch tennis. I told her we would be moving on and drove away, having to explain to my kids that the U.S. Open had just cost us a trip to the science museum.
I sent an inquiry to the Hall of Science asking how this could happen, but have so far received no response. The administration there may not have had a choice and had its hand forced by the city. Last year we discovered the city using public park land as paid parking lots for the tournament.
No New Yorker who comes in contact with the U.S. Open or its fans needs another reason to hate the U.S. open. Sure, it brings in lots of money to the city, but so does selling heroin. At least heroin eventually kills the people stupid enough to use it; U.S. Open fans don’t die off at a fast enough rate.
For 7 train commuters or neighbors of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, the Open is the most miserable time of the year. The train is filled with tennis fans that are clueless, without any sense of their being among others. Oblivious to the basic courtesies required of city dwellers, the subway is a big joke to them, other passengers who need the train to get home from work are lucky to be witness to their charming afternoon of slumming.
The tennis fans that clog our city are Exhibit A of the decline of Western civilization, the well-heeled and soft-minded excreta of a decadent and depraved society. These obnoxious Eloi offer nothing redeeming beyond commerce, and exude only ignorance and weakness in everything that they do.
Perhaps I am painting the Open and its fans with too broad a brush. I know several people who are great human beings who are true tennis fans and make it a tradition to attend the Open. The tennis center’s centerpiece stadium is named for Arthur Ashe, who set the gold standard for how professional athletes ought to be.
But most of the tennis fans who come to the open are not like the few good eggs that I know. It’s a time of year where rich jerks come to town and the city is more than happy to extend a big middle finger to the working people who actually live here. In short: the U.S. Open represents the antithesis of all that is good about our city and is potent refinement of the worst contemporary society has to offer.
Perhaps the answer is some good old fashion capitalism, such as selling tennis fans tickets to the VIP 7 train cars that don’t exist. I would like to adopt a temperamental Rottweiler so I can name it “Serena Williams” and charge people $100 dollars for a special VIP lounge meet and greet (the VIP lounge will be a cardboard box behind a White Castle—I shall feast like a king).
If the powers that be want to flood our city with the dregs of the pampered class, the rest of us can make a quick buck sheering these sheep. Improvise, adapt, and overcome. Either way, it will be over soon, but not soon enough.
There’s not much of a reason to watch tennis except to gawk at women in short skirts, and you can do that anywhere for free. I’m sure for fans of the sport in New York, the Open is a great opportunity to see some great masters of the game up close, but it’s not an interesting enough game for the price you pay. You can watch it on TV for free.
What the U.S. Open does for the many riders of the 7 train is flood our already overburdened subway with gaggles of U.S. Open attendees who do not know how to ride the subway.
I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘Riding a subway is easy. How can someone mess that up?’ Well, they manage. The tennis fans headed to the U.S. Open are easy to spot on the 7 train. Whereas the afternoon and evening 7 train is usually filled with haggard working people tired after a day at work and quietly waiting to get home, the tennis fans move as gaggles of cheery chatterboxes, filling the air with their inane conversations.
Tennis fans have every right to their inanity of course, but they are thoroughly unversed in the concepts of being courteous to others in a public space. Riding the subway is a quaint slumming experience for them, and their mannerisms betray them at every turn. They constantly lean on subway polls or spread out over spaces meant to accommodate several people. They constantly delay trains by hesitatingly getting on and off of a subway as they are unsure if they are on the right train or at the right stop.
On Main Street, Flushing the other day, I made my way to the subway for the second leg of my three-leg commute to work. A pair of older gentlemen made their way down the sidewalk among the throngs of Asian immigrants. They wore overpriced athletic gear though they looked like they had not exercised in years. One of them was bald but had hair around the edges of his head, and that hair had been dyed the color of a tennis ball.
Something about the soul-deadening luxury of the event and the blank eyes of many of the tennis fans that makes me vow that if I ever have enough money to attend the U.S. Open, I still won’t. I’d rather not be among people who can’t figure out how to use public transportation.