I had a thoroughly disorienting experience yesterday. I was rushing to catch the Times Square shuttle, and as I leaped into the lead car, I suddenly and strangely found myself suffused with a cozy, cabin-in-the-woods feeling. Every square inch of the subway car's walls were covered with wood paneling. I blinked a couple times and realized it was just wallpaper made to look like wood. No one else seemed fazed, but I couldn't stop staring. I tell you, it transformed the very vibe of the compartment. Those clean off-white, plastic walls were used to deaden your senses and somehow depress a person. This faux wood treatment made me oddly happy. I thought I might be served pancakes with syrup at any moment.
I quizzed the conductor when we reached Grand Central. He was the whole papering job was one big advertisement and had just been put in last week. He mentioned the company twice, but I didn't recognize it, plus his pronunciation was garbled. Anyway, I complimented him of the cozy feeling it gave me, and said they should think about wood siding as a permanent thing. "Really?" he said. "That's good to hear. Another guy told me it made him claustrophobic."