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'Make it Stop!' Claustrophobic Comic Tweets Fears While Trapped on Train

by Susan Donaldson James /  / Updated 

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What happens when you combine a claustrophobic comic, a stalled train, and smart phone?

A very public unraveling revealed one funny-yet-terrified tweet at a time, including gems like: "They made a new dictionary and the first word in it is is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaohgodmakeitstop."

Thankfully, comedian Connor Ratliff survived to speak Tuesday of the high anxiety he felt Monday while trapped aboard a crowded, Manhattan-bound subway train as it sat stalled for two hours, suspended above the 33rd Street station in Queens, “like the monorail at Disney World," he said.

He's feeling better now. And while the comic used his phone to vent his fear into funny, Ratliff's Twitter melt offered a true glimpse into a phobia that's not so humorous for many people.

“The train was fairly full of people going to work,” said Ratliff, 39, a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. "I was standing against one of the doors.”

It was the morning rush, around 9:30. Suddenly, amid icy conditions, a pedestrian dropped an umbrella nearby on the tracks. It froze on the third rail along the 7 subway line. The 11-car train in which Ratliff was riding lost power, creating a logjam for the entire system, stranding nearly 1,000 New Yorkers.

“It was better," Ratliff told NBC News, "than being under the river."

"I think claustrophobia is one of those fears that everyone has. It's reasonable, not irrational, like fear of spiders," he said. "Like fear of dying, you are stuck in a trapped, train car with a bunch of strangers, not knowing how long it will be. It’s the not knowing.”

So Ratliff began tweeting, hoping to drain away some of the scary unknowns.