Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

An Unlikely Source of Truth

I was only in the New York City area for about a day and a half, but in that day and a half I had many wonderful adventures. Among those adventures was attending the bar mitzvah of my young friend Gavin, which felt like a pretty significant event and wholly reinforced my belief that it is extremely important to attend the life milestones of your friends if you possibly possibly can. This leads to some difficulties a few weeks down the road, but that's another tale.

The bar mitzvah ceremony was held at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, and the reception was at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens a bit up the road. There is certainly a great deal to see and know in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Heights, on a fine sunny Saturday morning, is beautiful to behold, filled with streets of well-maintained brownstones and well-stocked delis.

To get to the bar mitzvah from my parents house in New Jersey, I took an early morning train to Penn Station, from where I had instructions to catch the 2 or 3 subway. Bafflingly, this being New York on a weekend morning, the number 1 train was leaving from the 2/3 platform, and the number 2 and 3 trains were leaving from the number 1 platform. I can't imagine why this would be necessary, or how I was expected to know this.

Ok, there were some paper flyers posted, saying something about express trains leaving from the local track, but if you are not a NYC resident you have no way of mapping "local/express" to "train 1/train 2/3". In fact, based on the subway map, I figured that the 2/3 was the local/express distinction, so the flyers made no sense to me since the 2 and 3 trains leave from the same platform. After watching several 1 trains go by on the platform clearly labeled 2/3, and watching a couple of 2 trains go by across the tracks on the platform clearly labeled 1, I began to suspect something was up. There were a few other people in the same boat as me, by the way, who did not get on the trains and looked baffled.

I left the platform to find an official, whom I overheard telling somebody else about the platform switch. In addition to the well-hidden official talking quietly, there was a ragged homeless woman sitting on the ground against the wall, loudly chanting "Take the number 2 train from the number 1 platform for *today*. Take the number 2 train from the number 1 platform for *today*." The words she was speaking were the absolute truth, clear and comprehensible, with no distracting buzzwords about "local" and "express".

If only I had noticed and paid mind to this woman on my way to the platforms I could have saved myself twenty minutes. What a lesson for me. In Christian terms, she was the equivalent of Jesus coming to my door disguised as a beggar. In metaphor terms, she was the embodiment of violated preconceptions. She was my Valuable Life Lesson.

I with I'd thought to give her some money, but I was rushing across the station to catch a train.
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