Friday, June 05, 2009

Man behind the glass.

A few months ago I noticed Phoebe waving to the man behind the glass at our home subway stop. MTA employees sit in cubicles that look like this, sans Easter lights.

I asked her about her little wave and she indicated that she always waves to him when we come up through the subway.

I had certainly noticed him before. He has a cheerful face, kind eyes and a very bald head. He stands out as MTA employees go. He doesn't seem bothered or annoyed or unhappy, that's why he stands out.

We pass by him everyday on the way home from school and I have noticed him waving to Phoebe or her waving to him, since I first realized they had this waving relationship.

A few days ago, he saw us coming through the turnstile, got up from his chair and came to the door. He asked me if he could give them a cookie, and I said sure.

He handed them each two little biscuits and said: "These cookies are from Ireland, like me." And then he said to me: "They have gotten so big these past few years."

We thanked him and went on our way, Phoebe loved the cookies so much she hoped outloud that wouldn't be the last time he extended them a treat.

I thought about him over the next day or two. When did he start noticing us? We certainly stand-out in the city and certainly in this transient neighborhood of young professionals and Long Island commuters...not many children about, especially in pairs with blond hair.

Does he know that we get home around the same time each day, with Tuesdays being the exception? Does he notice when Jason takes Phoebe home late on Wednesdays? Did he realize that Lolly stopped going to school and was thus with me all the time suddenly? Did he notice when my mom was picking her up, and not me? Did he see my black eye?

What does he observe from behind the window, sitting there day after day, besides the fact that, they've grown.

I wondered why he chose that day to reach out to us, after 2 years, finally making human contact. I didn't see him the next day. I wonder if I will see him today, maybe that was his goodbye?


14 comments:

Rae said...

Phoebe and Lolly's pseudonyms are compromised in the the third to last paragraph.

Cute story. I hope it wasn't goodbye!

Anonymous said...

OOPS! You have the girls real names in this one.

Kage said...

THANKs....my brain.....

wendysue said...

I love this. So sweet (on her little waving part, and his.)

Lisa said...

I think this is my favorite post of all the posts you've written.

Rachel H said...

That IS really sweet. I think I must be way too suspicious or something tho because I would then freak myself out thinking that someone could be "watching" and possibly "tracking" our daily schedules..? haha. I'm sure that's probably just me and my weirdness so nevermind.

And sorry to hear about the "spinning" stuff again! It sounds like you are handling it amazingly well.

This is Carrie said...

One of my favorite posts ever.
Hope he's just on vacation.

HHRose said...

I feel akin to that man. In the constantly-observing-strangers part, not the cookie part. If he's anything like me, I bet he sure does notice when those exceptions occur, just how I noticed that my around the corner neighbors were expecting triplets, and not the twins that I previously thought. (I won't tell you exactly how I found out, but it MAY have had something to do with seeing into their den through the window and catching a glipse of three carseats lined up like ladies in waiting.)

Jen said...

You will HAVE to tell us if you see him again. It would be so sad if he retired and that was his way of saying goodbye. New York stories.....I tell ya....and that was a good one!

I have NOT had good experiences with MTA employees...esp one where I totally lost my cool and let out a chain of f-bombs that still makes me blush. That fact makes me love this story even more...can't judge a book...

Beth said...

There are times when living in a big city feels like living in a small town. This is one of them. For us it's when I see my mailman all over town and he always says hi to me and my kids. Same kind of feeling. Nice post. I can just picture him.

kj said...

I think he would be so flattered to know you blogged about him and your girls. People like that are such good observers and that adds safety to a community. I think you should print off your blog and give the copy to him perhaps with a card from each of the girls or a little treat. I can imagine the girls drawing him in his booth and them waving. A dear, dear tale! He looks forward to their kind gestures.

hdknowles said...

For the past year there has been a major construction project on the railroad that crosses a busy street. A bridge was built for the trains and now the traffic doesn't have to come to a halt when the trains approach. I noticed one of the construction works who directed the traffic - he acknowledged lots of drivers everyday, and they responded in kind. I was amazed that he had taken the time to notice those regular commuters. Now the project has finished and they have moved to another site. I'm guessing he will develop new relationships with the next group of commuters he encounters. I loved your post.

Linz said...

I love that Phoebs kind of started the relationship and you didn't even know it. So cute.

evie parks said...

Now THIS is a good new york moment!

what an awesome story. need to remind myself of this on those bad city days.