Last night Karina, her uncle Mike and I were heading back on the Long Island Rail Road after a fun night in the city of dinner and comedy. As we exited the subway at Penn Station and saw the train right across the platform, I had an inkling that something was not right. We got on the train and proceeded past Jamaica towards Merillon Avenue when all of a sudden we heard a thump. The train stopped, and we all waited, not knowing what happened. The conductor came on and said we struck someone on the tracks and that we would need to wait for a police investigation before exiting the train.
Many of the passengers’ first reactions was to be upset about being inconvenienced. However, at the same time I thought about this individual who for whatever reason got on the tracks and had his/her life ended instantly by the train. I realized the fleeting nature of our lives and of our own mortality. Someone who probably had a full future ahead of him/her gone in one second.
The train powered down, including the A/C, and it was boiling the entire half hour we were stuck on the train. I was worried about my wife’s boiling because of her pregnancy. We were told that the last two cars had platformed at the New Hyde Park station, and that we should exit the train. There would be buses picking us up and taking us to the Hicksville Station, but who know how long the buses would take. We got up to exit but stood for at least 10 minutes before anyone was let off. Finally we exited on the south side of the train station, on which there were no cabs. We called an Uber but noticed the premium on the wait time and cost. I knew Mark Wilkow, our former congregational President and good friend, would be up and he generously offered to get us from the New Hyde Park Station.
This experience made me realize that a relatively brief inconvenience (an hour and a half delay in getting home, being stuck in a warm train car) pales in importance to the individual who was struck by the train. Ultimately I made it home and though tired, I can continue life’s adventures today. That is not true for the other. I hope that next time we are stuck in a situation beyond our control we will take a moment to appreciate what we do have and recognize that inconveniences can be overcome.