Saturday, June 19, 2010
Early Morning on the Subway and the Ferry
For the last two mornings, I have been on the subway at 6 am and the Staten Island Ferry at 6:30 am. I thought it would be worthwhile to share who I see as I ride public transportation this early in the morning. Does it surprise you at all to know that my fellow riders at this time in the morning are almost all people of color and working class types dressed for another day on road crews or construction sites? Despite what we hear about the long hours that investment bankers must suffer through, I do not see anyone dressed in a suit ready for a long day at Goldman Sachs. I do not see anyone getting off in midtown to slave away in Manhattan's corporate offices (with the possibly exception of custodians). Most of all, I definitely don't see anyone who works for a college or university. What I see are the common people, the everyday people who maintain the all-important infrastructure of this country. These are the people who get little thanks for the incredibly important work they do and whose jobs are often at risk. These are the people who get up at 5 am every weekday morning and who go to their workplaces with little or no complaint and who do their jobs, on the whole, with remarkably consistent excellence. They truly are the backbone of the nation, the people upon whom all the rest of us depend, often without our knowing it. You can see them just about every day dutifully riding the public transportation system, usually just before dawn. Sometimes they sleep most of the way, sometimes they read, sometimes they just stare into space. But they are there, day in day out, getting the job done for the rest of us.