Downward

An old woman scowls at passersby as she squats in a nest of plastic bags and bundles arranged on four seats on the Herald Square Q, N, and R subway platform. At one end of the platform, a man cups a cigarette in his palm, indifferent to the confused frowns of those around him. Across the tracks, on the northbound side, a man with matted hair declaims against an invisible adversary, while an almost visible stink clears a path as he paces up and down. The station reeks like soiled laundry and sweat because at least a half-dozen people are camped out here, wearing sweaty, soiled clothes steamed by the heat and moisture of thousands of subway riders maneuvering through the station at every hour.

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