Track 19
Closing ThoughtsShaindle's Shpiel

Track 19

New Yorkers don’t get confused.  New Yorkers adjust.

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Grand Central Station, a New York City landmark.
Grand Central Station, a New York City landmark.

There we were, chatting about this and that, the way only sisters can, when I hear my sister say, we’d better ‘do’ Uber instead of the bus or train into the city.

Wondering, I ask: Why, what’s the difference?

Uber will take 30 minutes, train or bus could take 1 ½ hours. We would have to leave very early, she replies. I’m thinking: Are you kidding me? No contest. Uber got my vote — early did not.

She then continues with: Penn Station is closed for repair. I usually take the Amtrak train from Penn Station to go up to Massachusetts, and I am not sure how it will work from Grand Central.

Wait, what? I say totally befuddled. How can a train station the size and importance of Penn Station be closed?

(Commuters beware!)

Will they accept our tickets, I ask?

Yes, it’s not about the tickets, it’s about where to catch the train.

Oh! When I lived in New York, the Bronx specifically, I never took a commuter train –- where would I go?  I took the IRT or the BMT. Just run of the mill subways trains to run of the mill subway stations. I was really pumped to take an Amtrak train.  I do love trains.

What happens to all the commuters who need Penn Station? I ask, already worrying for people I have never met.

New Yorkers adjust.

You would not believe how complicated the train schedules can get.  If track 19 is closed, you figure you would take another track. Perhaps track 24?  Only, 24 does not have a direct route to your ultimate destination.

So, checking the map, it would appear the train on track 24 will take you halfway to your destination. Keeping your map open, you notice at the half-way mark you must change trains, requiring you to run to yet another track. 17? However, this train is headed south. You were heading north. Or so you were hoping.

Even a New Yorker can be heard screaming HELP! Or you might hear the ol’ Bronx cheer.

Living in New York has so much to offer: art, music, the ferries, museums, the 42nd Street library, Central Park, beaches, Empire State Building, Broadway, Chinatown, Little Italy, spectacular shopping and so much more.

Choosing to live in New York also means traffic, subways and crowds.

New Yorkers adjust.

So the next day my sister and I Uber (the verb) to Grand Central.  The driver announces: Here you are. Both of us look up and see the Grand Central Hotel. Both my sister from the north and her sister from the south (me), say: No, this is a hotel, where is the station?  He points ten feet ahead. Oh, we say, humbled. We are always so sure we know what we are talking about.

Once again, New Yorkers adjust.

The city of Grand Central Station, and it is indeed large and complex enough to be a city, is overwhelming, impressive and magnificent. And, just like in the movies, there really are numbered tracks. Every few minutes you hear an announcement of trains boarding and leaving from one of the tracks.

I was in heaven. Did I mention I love trains? They feel so romantic. Trains feed my imagination of places yet to discover.

I have two sisters, all three of us June babies. My sister and I were headed to Massachusetts, where my other Northern sister lives, for our annual sisters’ birthday celebration.   

The train ride up was lovely. I could see cities, towns, lakes, and folks living off the grid, through my window.

Occasionally a conductor would announce the next station and the amount of time it would take to get there. Just like in the movies.

Back to track 19, or was it track 24? I am so confused. Obviously, this girl can’t keep track of the tracks. I’m saddened by the realization I am no longer a New Yorker.

New Yorkers don’t get confused.  New Yorkers adjust.

All hail to track 19?

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