I Respect…

I respect…
People who work hard, no matter the task.
I respect…
People who are fearful and still move forward.
I respect…
People who are willing to take on a challenge.
I respect…
People who try their best at all times.
I respect…
People who make the most of their abilities.
I respect…
People who can laugh at themselves.
I respect…
People who serve as examples to those around them.
I respect…
People who are proud yet humble.
I respect…
People who are willing to be vulnerable.
I respect…
People who are considerate of others.
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To My Fellow Passenger on the A Train: You are Not the Only One!

Hey kid,

NYC A Train

NYC A Train on its Route

You don’t remember me.  I was the guy sitting next to you on the A train who gritted his teeth and shook his head.  I didn’t say anything to you. I figured, why bother? But maybe I should have. Someone should have told you that what you were doing wasn’t cool. In fact, it was down-right rude.

Maybe, you didn’t know. Maybe you didn’t realize that the subway is a public space.

Once you inhabit that public space, your responsibility is to be considerate of the others who are around you.

You see we’re all in it together.

Once a rider pays his/her fare, he/she has the exact same rights as everyone else. However, that does not mean that you can do whatever you want on the train.

Now, as a person who has used the NYC subways for years, I have learned that anything can and does happen. It really is a free for all.

So, maybe you have seen others do as they please and therefore think it’s okay.

Well, it’s not.

Let me explain specifically what you were doing.

You were listening to music – loudly. And without headphones.

So, in other words, you were listening to music but subjecting everyone around you to your music.

I don’t know the name of the song, though I know I didn’t like it. However, my liking it is not even the point. Remember, you are responsible to every other rider.

Anyway, the music you happened to be listening to was foul. F you, N this, B that.  Yeah, like I said, foul.

Unfortunately, language like this in music is no longer shocking. However, I am not trying to be Tipper Gore here. Let me get off that soapbox. If your parents are okay with you listening to that kind of music, then it’s not really my business. Yet, I definitely have an opinion, and it ain’t positive.

Anyway, did you even consider that there might be little kids on the train? Did you look around to see who else shared the train with you that weekday afternoon?

Is it right to subject little kids to that music?

What about elderly people? Do you play that music for your grandparents?  I’m guessing no. Did you look around to see if there were any elderly people on the train?

Then, there are people like me. I was the guy next to you who fell asleep after a day of work and another night of a child crawling into my bed.  My ride home on the subway always includes a catnap.  And I look forward to it each day.

Did you look around to see if other people were clearly enjoying the quietish, regular hum of a typical packed subway car?

Look kid, the point is this. You might think the world is yours and you can do whatever you want with it. Many teens act as if the world is their’s for the taking. However, you went too far.  See, the world isn’t yours. Nearly 7 billion of us on the planet – no one exists in a vacuum.

Consideration and decency might not sound cool to you. Or something you have to worry about.  But you do. Cause you are just like the rest of us. Besides, consideration and decency might just take you somewhere that you didn’t know you could go. The world might really be yours, then.

And I don’t mean the next stop on the train.

I appreciate you listening to this advice. No need for thanks.

Take care,

The rider next to you on the A train.

Picture is courtesy of: Google


On the Binder

Do you recall having loose leaf binders in school? I remember having a blue cloth loose leaf binder. I got my first one in 4th grade. I liked the different sections, the yellow dividers, and the inevitable reinforcements. However, what I liked most about having a loose leaf was that I could doodle on the cover. Whether its flowers and hearts or monsters and trucks, I think you can learn a lot about someone if you look at their doodles.

Well, if somehow my old loose leaf binders could be resurrected, they would confirm that I was a sports lunatic. I used to draw these rectangles which I envisioned as banners hanging from the rafters. This is where the elite athletes would have their names one day. However, the day came a little early for those I chose from among the stars of the Philadelphia teams of my youth – Clarke, Barber, Montgomery, Carmichael, Erving, Toney, Carlton, and Schmidt.

I put these players and many others on a pedestal. I looked up to them and imagined what it would be like to meet them. They were more than athletes I saw on television. I felt as if I knew them. I see my high school students do the same thing today. They are completely obsessed with particular players – Lebron James could have a thriving fan club just comprising the students I had last year.

In the years since my early ‘doodles’, I’ve realized that I did not know where to ‘draw the line’ – pun intended. Being a professional athlete means that an individual has been blessed with great skill which he or she has honed through hours upon hours of practice. It does not mean the athlete is a good person. It does not mean that I know the athlete because I have seen them perform their sport. I do not know them, and I have no true understanding of the type of person he/she is.

I want my boys to enjoy sports. Enjoying and partaking in sports is good exercise and a great way for children to bond. However, I do not want my boys to obsess over sports and blur the lines between a star on the field of play and a wonderful person in the game of life.

Respecting and admiring the athlete for his/her talents is fine. However, I also want my children to respect the policeman who puts his life on the line, the fireman who saves others, the military man who protects the country, the teacher who enables children, the entrepreneur who seeks to make things better, the scientist who tries to find a cure, the doctor who helps people to feel better, the religious figure who gives guidance, etc.

The point is everyone who works hard, shows care for others, strives to better himself/herself is deserving of respect. No one – particularly someone you don’t know – should be idolized. When it comes to worship, you should look above for inspiration and not around.

When my children get their first loose leaf binder, they will surely come to doodle on it at some point. As they consider what to doodle on their book, I hope that they will go beyond my options.

PS. I wrote a newspaper article about the Penn State situation that is related to this. Here’s the link: http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/163267936_What_to_do_when_idol_is_shown_to_have_feet_of_clay.html?page=all