BLOG: Vince Van Patten’s Strange Day in New York City

Aug 9, 2018

By Vince Van Patten

Vince Van Patten

In my last blog post for WPT.com, I told you that I would soon share more about my new film coming out, “Walk to Vegas,” among other things. Because we’re still putting on the finishing touches on the film, and because it’s still months away from theatres and premieres and all the hype that goes with it, it’s not really the time for too much info. I’d like to save the opportunity for closer to the opening. However, please feel free to go to the WalkToVegas.com for more information on the film, including the cast, storyline, trailer, and more.

But now, I’d like to share a weird thing that happened to me on my recent trip to New York City a few weeks back.

I went to New York to participate in a couple of wonderful poker events held in partnership with the World Poker Tour and WPT Foundation. The first was for Baccarat, where we played an exclusive VIP event at the magnificent Baccarat store on Madison Avenue, laughing and drinking and playing our way into the wee hours of the night. It was lots of fun! The next night we were at the Ninth Annual Take ‘Em to School Poker Tournament at Gotham Hall. We had an amazing time and raised big money for Education Reform Now.

I arrived in New York City a couple of days earlier because I wanted to visit some friends, eat well, and play tennis. So I met my buddy Tom in Scarsdale, 40 minutes away from the city, to play some tennis out there, which we did, and then I was on my own to get back to the city. I decided to make the return trip by train. I love the train! And I was looking forward to a nice, relaxing ride back to the city.

This is where the day started to get strange.

I was dropped off at the station in the 2:45 p.m. by “Manny,” Tom’s mother’s boyfriend, who was very kind and talkative, but I couldn’t help but notice he had a glass eye. No big deal. I know lots of people that have glass eyes and never had a problem before on focusing or anything like that. But this time, it was different. I found myself having trouble making eye contact with him because I didn’t know which eye to stare in to, so eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and just stared straight ahead or out the window. Then I arrived at the station not a second too soon, got out, and was off.

I bought my ticket for 12 bucks and waited on the top platform for the 3:05 train to come. At 3:25, it arrived. I jumped on and expected the train to be pretty full, knowing New York, but lo and behold it was a practically empty train with tons of seats wide open. Who knew? What a pleasant surprise. I proceeded to the back of the train car and sat myself down in a very comfortable corner-end, dual seat – leaning forward, not backward, because I get car sick very easily, and I made sure I was away from other people. I just wanted to stick my earbuds in and happily listen to my wonderful 50s, 60s, and 70s tunes and not be bothered today. It was great! For real. I was happier than Phil Hellmuth doing a one-man show! By the way, Phil does have a one-man show, but he’s decided not to do it because he doesn’t want to share any credit. OK, that’s a joke I made up – ha, ha!

Anyway, back to my happiness.

It was all there – listening to my Tom Petty, chugging along, and getting rocked along the tracks like a baby. Then a guy who looks like Danny DeVito pops his head out between my two front seats and stares at me maniacally and smiles. I ask myself, “Why? Why would a Danny DeVito lookalike stare back at me like he wants to play checkers?” My New York attitude returned from my youth and I nod stiffly, but can’t fake a smile nor want to. DeVito got the message finally, after about 10 more seconds of staring at me, and disappeared.

I go back to my music and some emails, even a text or two.

Then the conductor comes on the loudspeaker to make an announcement. At least I thought it was the conductor. I couldn’t understand a word the man said. His voice was muffled and had no real expression. It sounded like it was coming from a giant tin can or from some 1950s submarine movie. “Next stop!” he blared out, and those are the last two words anyone could possibly understand from the garbled voice. He continued to shout out towns like Yonkers, Poughkeepsie, White Plains, and Harlem. At least I thought he said that – who could tell?

From there, the train left the outside and went underground into the subway. I hardly noticed any stops as I was into my “old school” music, my uneventful texts, and even a few phone calls. I was very content, getting things accomplished, and enjoying my New York train ride. I hardly noticed any other passengers or even lookalike Danny DeVito’s presence. I was in to my own little world. Then, there must have been train traffic because we really slowed down and even had to make a complete stop seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t mind, as I was oblivious to the world and on some stupid text thread where everyone seemed to be firing off genius one-liners and I was right in the thick of it.

Then, it happened.

I realized I was the only one on the train. We were at the destination, Grand Central Station. We had arrived, but I was so busy I hadn’t noticed. I jumped up from my seat and looked around. No one was in the car. I walked over to the door and silently laughed at myself for my oversight. I pressed on the “open door” button, but nothing happened. It didn’t open.

I pressed it again. Still nothing! I quickly made my way to the other doors down the car and tried to open them. No luck!

I looked outside the train window. It was very dark, with nothing but a dark and empty platform. No people in sight. There was one broken neon light flickering blue, somewhat eerily, from 50 feet away. I stared at blocks of dark cement in the distance and I began to panic.

I started jogging through the dark, empty train from car to car banging on the windows and trying to punch open the “open door” buttons in every car, but to no avail. I was screaming out loud to anyone, “Open up! Open the door! I’m locked in! Help!” I was hoping there was some kind of camera inside and they could see me, but no one was there, no one to help me off this train! Where was the Danny DeVito lookalike when I needed him?

Now my mind started playing tricks on me. I asked myself, “What am I gonna do?” I can’t get off this death train. Maybe after a certain amount of time, this train will go to the night place, where I couldn’t get out.

I’ve seen Thomas the Tank Engine before. The trains go to a strange, deserted dock where it’s pitch black and they eerily sleep at night. That’s when the rats come out, not to mention the subway “mole people” that could be looking for stragglers left on a train. I was losing it fast.

Sweating profusely, banging on the doors, and screaming for anyone to help me, I tried to calm myself as I noticed a “break glass for emergency” box. Oh my god, it was there all along!

But then I thought, “No, I couldn’t do that”. That wasn’t for me, in my situation. That was for vandals and psychos and really creepy people. Was I now one of them? I had to get off this train!

I looked around, spotted my tennis racket, and smashed the glass with the handle. It felt good, the doors released, and I walked off the train triumphantly, down the dark platform of Grand Central Station. To my surprise, I saw no one for about three minutes till I finally got to a lighted area where normal people were walking and going about their business. It was all so surreal. Then I looked back, just for a second, so happy to be out of that mess. My walk turned in to a quick jog and I was gone. I told myself, next time I was going to take an Uber.


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