On Board #54

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Nov. 30, 2009, 11:44 a.m.
Shuttle – Grand Central to Times Square

A woman stands in the door of the next departing Shuttle at Grand Central station. She’s holding the door, and appears to be looking for a friend hustling down the platform to board the waiting train.

“No need to rush, plenty of time,” she announces, to no one visibly there.

She boards the train with no one behind her, walks halfway down the train and settles into a spot.
Little people. Look at those little people.” She’s yelling at a trio of toddlers at the end of the car, the end where she entered. She walks toward them, continuing her announcement: “Those are little people.”

The parents of the children are clearly in shock. The man grabs one of the three strollered children, a girl, and lifts her onto his right shoulder. His wife turns away, embarassed.

“Do you know why they look like little people,” the woman asks. No response. “Because they are little people.”

She leans over and gives one of the children what is known, officially, as the “sloppy kissy face.” She turns to the other, covers her face with her hands, and yells: “PEEKABOO.”

“Do you know what they are when they’re asleep? Do you know? They’re cherubs. Little angels. Do you know what a cherub is? Do you? It’s a little angel.”

The parents remain silent, and soon, as the train moves, the woman moves on as well. She’s squat with a matronly haircut, and wears a long red wool skirt over a pair of jeans. She holds a blue Wyndham Hotels bag. She moves back to the middle of the car, sets her stance, and begins her speech:

“Good morning, my name is Carlene. I have two kids and just lost my job. I don’t smoke I don’t drink I don’t do drugs. I’ve just fallen on hard times.”


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