I always marvel at the people one meets who are more than willing to help you. It’s rarely who you’d expect to step up to the plate on your behalf.
I’m in an area of Brooklyn I’ve never been before, trying to make my way home, by subway. After 2 people direct me to the C Line, one I ride regularly, I’m now on it, but at one end of its very long route.
I want to somehow switch to the East Side train since it’s too late to walk through the Park, and too cold to wait for the bus.
I think there’s a Borough Hall stop, but there isn’t, causing me, what I don’t realize, to visually panic.
A man of color in dusty work clothes notices my distress and says, “Where’s ya wanna go Miss?”
When I tell him he says, “Get off at Fulton, the old World Trades Centa’ stop.”
“Yeah but, it’s not up there with the rest of the stops.” Some trains, such as this one, has an electric board that lights up as you go.
“That’s cause yous’ a good 17, 18 stops from there, so it ain’t shown up on the screen yet.”
Another man of color in a cheesy leisure suit he wears like it’s custom-made adds, “The stops go quick, so best ya just chill and enjoy the ride.”
He has a case that must harbor some kind of horn he holds like a baby, his long fingers adorned with huge rhinestone rings.
I then look over my shoulder and see a Latino man with a bike, who actually made me a little nervous while waiting on the platform, nod from across the car assuring me I was given the right directions.
As I sit alongside these men standing sentry over my stress, it gets me thinking.
These 3 and their brethren are who make up the fabric of my fair city. Not the stuffy, entitled Upper East and West Siders with their New Yorkers and Wall Street Journals, oblivious to what’s happening around them.
But hardhats and hotel workers, MTA and delivery men, and even a man on a bicycle that’s not supposed to bring it on the train.
I also now feel safe in a part of town that’s strange to me.
I thank them as I alight at Fulton, cantering up the stairs following the 4 and 5 Uptown signs. I now begin thinking of all the people who helped rebuild this station after the terrorist attacks destroyed it on September 11th, 2001.
As a New Yorker, I’m feeling proud being part of something bigger, safe in a place that, despite its challenges, still never lets me down.