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Second thoughts …

June 21, 2011

Hey guys, remember when I said public transportation wasn’t glorious? Remember when I said it wasn’t cool? And I think I also said something along the lines of: “everywhere I went I was followed by a nagging odor that wreaked of urine, body odor and whatever the dude in front of me had for lunch”? Well … I’ve changed my mind!

Why, you ask? Well, when I wrote that blog post, I had never gotten off at a stop I (and the rest of the world) like to call, “Grand Central Station.” And boy, it is a grand station, let me tell you.

I met up with my friend Mori last night after work and she told me to meet her at the Grand Central Station stop. I thought, “Hmm, I feel like I’ve heard of that place before…” and said, “Alrighty, meet you there.” The ride there was as per usual. Cramped, musty and awkward. I got off at the stop. It was all normal. Whatever. I exited on to 42nd street to get cell service and see try to rendezvous with my friend. Whatever.

And then it happened. I had to get back into the station to meet up with my friend, so I went through this large entrance which seemed too nice to be a part of the subway system I have come to know and dislike. I heaved open the double doors and was met with white marble and high ceilings and gold-painted railings and an engraving over two more double doors at the end of a long hallway. Here’s a picture of it:

I think it bears mentioning that I didn’t even notice how cool it was behind the first set of doors until I was halfway down the walkway because I was so predisposed to believe I was going to walk into another urine-stained, mucus-smelling cement shack that I had my head down and breath held. But as I looked at the ground I noticed it was shinier and whiter than usual … so I looked up. I immediately doubled back to the front doors to enter again and take it all in — the right way. I read the engraving, I pulled multiple 360° turns with my eyes pushed open as far as they’d go. I made it to the end of the walkway after I was satisfied with my appreciation of my surroundings and  opened the second set of double doors and was transported to a white marble wonderland.

Readers, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Before then, the only transportation systems I’d become familiar with was the “L” in Chicago — a pathetic, rickety, slow, yet dearly beloved elevated train that gets Chicagoans from place to place at an extremely inefficient pace, and Metro buses in LA — but I won’t insult the L and the NY subways by lumping the LA Metro with them in the same category. Walking into Grand Central Station slapped my theory that public transportation in NY wasn’t glorious DIRECTLY in the face relentlessly. Every time I turned my head, that theory was slapped again, and again, and again until it resembled the Elephant Man.

Grand Central Station is a shining beacon of the beauty and power of public transportation. Over the years, public transportation has come to receive a negative connotation because usually, people just assume that you use public transportation ’cause you’re too poor to afford a car, and therefore you have to travel with hundreds of random people you don’t know in close, unsanitary quarters, just waiting for your ride to be done so you can get where you’re going and be done with the whole experience. But that’s not what public transportation is really about. It’s an amazing, ecological, efficient thing that should be seen as the wonder of human technology and innovation that it is, and not something that has to be endured instead of celebrated. Grand Central Station celebrates the public commuter — it glorifies the art of transportation in the public domain. There is a gigantic clock in the main area that gave me a sense of the vastness of the world — and more specifically the NY transportation system. Green lights all around me flashed times and stops and neighborhoods in New York, and I felt all the excitement and the curiosity that comes along with the desire to travel to places I’ve never been and enjoying the ride along the way. Chandeliers hung proudly from the ceiling, as though they were assuring us that yes, we are in a beautiful, important place, and that we should be careful to take notice and have respect for the ground upon which we travel. When I looked up, I was met with constellations and small lights highlighting their outlines — another symbol of the call to explore those places we’ve never been — no matter how distant or impossible it may seem. Once again, New York has scoreboard over EVERYWHERE ELSE.

And now, I’d like to share something with you out of sheer vanity and pride. You can ignore this if you want, but I really want to put this out there because … well … JUST LISTEN. I’ve kept a running tally of how many times I’ve been mistaken for a New Yorker now, and the number is three. Yes, thrice tourists from lands near and far have all been united under one common characteristic: they assumed I was a native New Yorker. Of

Contellations on the ceiling!

course, not wanting to make them feel awkward about the error of their ways, far be it from me to correct them. Unfotuntately, the first two times I was mistaken for a native and asked for directions, in a pathetic attempt not to blow my cover, I waved my arm in a random direction, smiled and said, “that way a few blocks,” and bustled off in a different direction. I’m not proud of that part of the story, but I would like to inform you all that on the third occasion I was for the location of Bleecker Street, and I am happy to tell you that I was well aware of the whereabouts of that street and informed my inquisitor happily and swiftly and he was on his merry way.

Oh, New York City, I’d love to know you better. If only we could get a little alone time — could you please send all the tourists away (besides me?).

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 10:38 am

    love

  2. Gus permalink
    June 21, 2011 10:57 am

    love — want to know more about history of Grand Central. MORE!!

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