Recently I did something I haven't done in a couple of years. I went to New York and rode the subway. I first rode the subway with my father and used to ride it on my own starting in high school and on through middle age. It offered excitement and a cultural escape from the hum drum world of the suburbs. I still remember the tokens, the pan handlers, the faint smell of urine giving the subways a Mediterranean atmosphere.
I had grown out of practice. The tokens are gone now and you have to deal with the weird machines that sell you a ticket that expires in two hours. I was a typical tourist fumbling for change.
I can remember when you couldn't transfer from an IND train to an IRT train at Times Square. Now you can. The trains looked newer now too and the walls weren't caving in like I remembered.
Still the subway is still the subway. Going from an uptown train to the 7 crosstown train is still an adventure. Half a mile of walking in dark corridors with an occasional blind singer or guitar player on the way.
Treat of all treats I got to hear "the speech" on the number 6 train. A voice suddenly boomed out from behind me, well echoed. The man was homeless, had a wife with a baby on the way and only needed enough money to stay in a youth hostel. In the 70's he would have been a Vietnam vet. He did well and collected some bills. I was surprised. Unfortunately he kept talking after his pitch and collection was over. Like a talk show host he started making small talk to the crowd. You should always know when to end a presentation.
Like I always say, "You haven't been to New York if you haven't ridden on the subway". I'm not sure if quoting oneself requires the use of quotation marks.