I often note how proudly I am to be a New Yorker even as I have lived in 18 cities. I also tend to note that I am a happy curmudgeon. When I lived out in Los Angeles, many were bewildered by the fact that I am a New Yorker since they saw me as a a very sunny, optimistic individual. As well as very sympathetic. Of course, I told people that New Yorkers are generally very nice people and we will tend to go out of our way to help people. We just need to do it quickly. And, what is wrong with that? Now we also tend to be a bit direct. And, why not? We need to do things quickly. And direct feedback can help get things done.
It is that framework with which I got on the train last week. I ran to the train and sat down. I then proceeded to just read my Twitter feed as I wiped the sweat off my brow from having sped walk cross-town. Then the bell rings. And it rings again. A long, long ring. Then the door closes. Then a true New York moment happened. The train conductor comes on and notes “When you hear the bells, it means to get on the train. Ir doesn’t mean you stand on the platform.” A man then noted for everyone to hear in the train car, that it was him the conductor was chastising. Everyone laughed. I laughed and felt at home.
You may not find it funny but most of us that day did. The conductor was being upfront, transparent and helping to ensure that we could leave on time. And, hopefully that individual will fro then on out get on the train when the bell rings. Time is money. But even more importantly the train leaving on time means we get to go home on a more timely manner. I get to see my son sooner when everyone does their part. Even though a subway may seem quite like an individual endeavor it is a team sport, of sorts. We are all in it together. If strangers can help keep the process and system efficient and working for everyone, there is hope for us coming together to solve larger and smaller problems alike. Go figure. There is a lesson or two to take away from riding public transportation in New York City. And, we can be grateful to someone being direct about it.