On a New York City subway I witnessed a woman who didn’t even know what state she was in. She asked her traveling companions where they were, and a teenage girl answered impatiently, “Lafayette!”…and the mom asked “New York?” I felt her pain.
Both my kids moved out of the house last week (to college and Manhattan). Yep! The world is spinning too fast.
And I know fast. Once I got pulled over for “speeding” in what may or may not have been a construction zone in Charleston, WV. The nice officer let me go with a warning, “Mam, just pay attention to the signs, OK?” I assured him I would.
You can’t avoid signs in NYC. In Times Square I was bathed in the light of the largest collection of LED signs on the planet. By law, buildings in Times Square are required to have a minimum amount of lighting to keep the 340,000 people who pass through daily entertained. (I was.)
There are also many many signs connected with the city’s subway; uptown or downtown, Penn Station, Port Authority, Queens, etc. It seemed like we always debated which train to board and after changing our minds a few times, we’d finally get on one and hope for the best. The intercom announcer was seldom decipherable, so one had to peer through the window to catch a glimpse of station signs as they flashed by. This got tricky as the car filled up and people would stand in front of the windows blocking the signs! Isn’t that just like life sometimes how we might be searching for our destiny but there is someone blocking our vision, so we just keep going in the wrong direction?
The most intriguing signs in the city were the ones made of cardboard, held in tired hands in front of tired faces. A NYC artist, Andres Serrano bought several signs from the homeless and used them in a 2013 video called “Sign of the Times”. One of them read, “My mom told me to wait right here…that was 10 years ago.” Last week I noticed one fellow had his head bowed behind his sign that read “You never think it will happen to you.” Another day I stepped over an abandoned sign on the street that simply said “BROKE and HUNGRY”. I wondered where the sign’s owner was and then pondered how if we don’t individualize it, aren’t we are all broken and hungry for something?
There’s a digital sign at Penn Station with a group of approximately 100 people staring eagerly up at it to see which track their train will come in on. My daughter and I found ourselves in such a herd. When our train number popped up, it was off to the races! The 100 people made a mad dash, squeezing as one entity, through one set of double doors onto the train platform. My arms were clamped to my sides as I floated along in the pack and I glanced around to see if anyone else found it a bit humorous. (Everyone looked serious.) I reported the incident to mom and dad who compared it to sheep. When an elementary-school-aged cousin once visited Red Gate Farm, mom jokingly yelled to their eager flock of sheep crowded together, “Now everyone line up single file!”. Then she threw open the barn door, and of course they all rushed in like there was no tomorrow, some jumping on top of their sisters to get in the door and to the grain!
Aren’t we all trying to get somewhere? I wonder how far we could go if, regardless what “state” we’re in, we made sure nobody is standing in the way of our clear vision. I wonder what would happen if we acknowledge we are broken, be hungry for more Jesus, and run to Him like there’s no tomorrow…before the train leaves the station. I wonder.
Janet Cowger- Fliegel