Yesterday morning I was standing on the subway platform thinking of nothing other than where is the train and what’s holding it up.
I looked down to the end of the platform and saw three New York City transit workers huddled together. They appeared to be discussing something and not coming to an agreement. Their arms flailing about and their raised voices was a hint.
Out of curiosity, and getting bored waiting for the subway, I wandered down to where they were standing so I could listen in on their conversation.
It seems they had to put up a sign announcing a change of schedule for the trains. This must have been an unexpected change because they were going to write the sign out by hand and tape it to one of the pillars that extends from the platform to the station ceiling.
What struck me was the three men themselves. There was a Hispanic, a Sikh complete with turban, and a Jamaican.
Their discussion was energetic, animated and made all the more interesting by the blending of the three distinctive accents. Together they formed an almost poetic sound that reverberated off the tile walls of the subway tunnel.
When I finally figured out what they were discussing I smiled and laughed to myself. It seems they were debating whether one of the phrases they had to write on the sign should be “don’t” or “do not.”
Here were three men for whom the American version of English is most likely their second language trying mightily to determine the proper usage of a common phrase we English-first-language speakers take for granted. But they were going to get it right.
I don’t know about all of America but I know this…you don’t have to make New York City great again. With conscientious people like this we already are.