Friday, September 21, 2007


Every morning when I squeeze my way out of the Downtown-bound #6 train at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station, I'm greeted by a cheerful, rotund MTA worker who calls out to all and sundry, "Good morning!" or "Have a good day!" or, on Fridays, "Enjoy your weekend!"

He's a familiar sight, in his light blue shirt, orange-and-yellow reflective vest, and MTA cap. He's missing a few teeth, but that just seems to add to his bright smile. I must say that his greetings go a long way toward smoothing over any feathers ruffled coming off of the subway cars or trying to push up the stairs to the main terminal.

I've been saying "Hello" back to him for months but never dared to stop to ask his name because I'd've gotten trampled in the process. But last week, after escorting my out-of-town guest to her destination across town, I arrived at GCS later than normal. He was still on the platform. I said "Hello" and started to walk away, but I was curious and just had to find out his name, so I stopped and turned around.

"I see you every morning and have always wanted to know your name," I said.

"Calvin," he said. "Calvin's my name."

"Well, hello, Calvin. You sure make these hectic mornings a little nicer."

"Thank you, m'am. I do what I can." That was the end of it, and I went on my way.

But I do love adding "Calvin" to my morning hellos. He seems right pleased.


Anonymous said...

That is so nice Mary. I'm sure your sweet smiling face brightens Calvin's day too. ~Joy

PT said...

This is one of the other differences between you colonials and us back here in the Motherland.

[Ooh, this is a narrow tightrope!]

If anyone DARED to stand at the exit to a tube station wishing everyone a good morning he would resign within minutes because of the abuse rained down upon him.

This is an indictment of both the terrible state of the London Underground, and the fact that we don't like people trying to cheer us up - we think it's none of their business.

Same thing when a shop assistant tells you to "have a nice day" - we treat it as an invasion of privacy rather than a fairly empty but harmless friendly gesture.

At least, I assume it's to do with being British. That sort of thing just makes my skin crawl.

Friendliness... Pah!

MaryB said...

Joy - I think he does like being acknowledged. I've started noticing others who call him by name, so I'm not the only one.

PT - I normally don't like "have a nice day," either, but Calvin's greetings are a little different. And no one abuses him at all - many people pouring off the trains nod or say hello back to him. I don't know - he just takes the facelessness out of everything. Now, you Brits need to lighten up, you old sticks in the mud! :-0

Marty: said...

I just discovered your blog and I'm excited to catch up. I love the images you use as illustrations.

MaryB said...

Thanks, Marty! I appreciate your stopping by!

Liz said...

I'm with you, Mary. While we were on holiday we kept seeing a little old Cretan lady. Every time we passed I smiled at her but she just ignored me. Then one day she raised her hand in greeting as passed. It was fantastic! I felt I'd broken through some sort of barrier - until I looked back and saw she'd been greeting a friend behind us!