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


My Son is Gone on the Train to Independence

Train tracks to indepdence

The route to independence.

There comes a day when it’s time for children to move on and be independent. You know forge their own path and make their own way.

As parents we know this day is coming from the moment our child is born.  However, most of us probably don’t expect this momentous day to come just after our child’s 7th birthday.

Well, SJ, my 7-year-old is ready for his independence. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t wait to leave the house.

In fact, he woke up yesterday at 6 a.m. (his usual) and made a packing list. He wanted to make sure he was ready to go.

Okay, okay SJ was taking the train to his grandmother’s and spending a few days there before returning next week. However, it is still the longest he will be away from his brother, my wife, and I.

And he was bursting with excitement.

SJ excited to get away

SJ is so excited that he doesn’t know what to do with himself.

In fact, SJ has been telling everyone he sees about this trip for the last week. This includes the after school ladies, the group leader at the synagogue, the barber, and the ticket collector on the train. Of course, he also told all of his friends and any other kid that would listen.

I am happy for SJ or El Macho Deathfire Macho Man which he informed me was his new wrestling name. Don’t ask – this little one is a character. For now, I’ll still call him SJ.

When I was young, I took mini vacations to my grandmother’s apartment. Nanny (that’s what her grandchildren called her) and I would go food shopping. I was happy to be her helper as I felt like I was doing a nice thing. She would make all my favorite foods. Nanny would take me to the movies, and we would eat pizza. We also played Rummikub. The calm easy tempo of her house was a nice respite from the kinetic energy that was the house inhabited by four boys in which I grew up.

Mostly, Nanny and I bonded. She told me stories about her growing up. She told me about my mother when she was young. Nanny answered all my questions, and I asked A LOT of questions.

And that is what I want for SJ. I want him to spend time with his grandmother at her house where it is just the two of them.  I want him to bond with his grandmother. I hope he will also see other members of the family and have a chance to shine.  They can get to know what a character he is.

SJ is definitely ready to go. Besides the bonding time, he simply wants to get away, “I need a break from my brother.”

Packed on the train platform

SJ packed and ready to go on the train.


Train window being fogged up.

SJ fogging up the train window while he examines the landscape.

Passing the time on the train.

SJ on the train playing his Kindle. He was struggling to pass the time.

So, this morning, he and I took the NJ transit train to Trenton. SJ was a bundle of gleeful energy, “I can’t sit back. I’m too excited.” When we reached the station, he ran to his grandmother, ready to be on his own.

Meeting at the train station.

SJ and his grandmother at the train station.

Have fun El Macho Deathfire Macho Man. Enjoy the bonding and independence. Just know we will be calling even though we respect your independence.

P.S. BR’s first trip to his grandmother’s:

Too Old For This

1:34, 2:18, 3:04, 3:41, 4:00, … This is not a bus schedule, a list of bible sections, or available time slots to have the cable guy come. No, these are the times that BR woke me on Saturday night.

I stopped at 4:00 not because he finally fell asleep. No, I stopped then because I finally got up, told my wife to try and sleep, and I took over trying to get BR back to sleep. I picked out one of his library books, Benjamin Franklinstein Lives by Matthew McElligott, and began reading. Fifty pages later and he was … declaring it morning and time to get up. You thought I was going to say he fell asleep – didn’t you? Oh how I wish you were right!

No luck. One of the blogs I follow is Being Mummy ( One topic that the blogger has written a lot about is the difficulties she and her husband are having getting their child into a good sleep pattern. The baby has been giving them long sleepless nights. I’ve left comments saying, “Good luck, been there, be strong, it will happen eventually, enjoy your 80 ounces of coffee,” etc. While reading the blog and writing the comments, I have felt great relief: Thank G-d my children are past that stage!

After all, my boys are 8 and 5.5. They are way past the up-all-night stage. (The first time BR slept through the night, I told colleagues at work the next day that I had never loved him more.) Sure, I know there is the occasional illness, anxiety, or excitement that may awaken or keep the boys awake a bit – maybe an hour. Nothing a book or lying next to them could not cure. What you may be wondering caused me to be soooooo wrong on Saturday night?

Well, on Sunday morning, BR and I were scheduled to be on the 9:48 a.m. train out of Radburn with our final destination being Trenton, NJ. At Trenton, my Mom was picking him to spend a few days at her condo. We’ll be driving down on Thursday night. This is the longest – by far – that he will be away from us.

How excited is he? And quote.

“Tomorrow will be the second best day of my life.”

“So, you are not coming with me? Or Dad?”

“Of course, I can behave – SJ won’t be there.”

“I’ll only miss you a little bit.”

“You’re not coming with me, right?


So, my parenting expertise gained from years in said role tells me he is ready for this experience. Duuuh.

I’m happy he is excited to spend time with his grandmother. I’m happy he is ready for some independence. I’m happy he is maturing.  Before his next getaway, though, I’ll be spiking his milk and cookies. I need my sleep!