Share the Joy.

I mostly travel to NYC by train. I have two choices- multiple options all day and into the night on Metro North’s Hudson River Line to the magnificence of Grand Central Station.  Or NJ Transit’s Port Jervis Line with decent options during rush hour, almost nothing in the afternoon, three opportunities to get home after 7:30pm – and after a change in Secaucus deposits me in the dungeon of Penn Station. 99% of the time I ride NJ Transit.

Here’s why:

Unlike the Hunger Games of parking anywhere on the Hudson River Line, I can park my car easily at multiple Port Jervis Line stations and it costs under $2.00

The bigger reason though is Conductor Carmen Foti.

I sit in the quiet car. I have said good morning to Carmen over the years and always thank him for the ride. He is courteous and helpful. On June 20, 2017 I boarded the train with my friend Susan, not the quiet car but the one right behind it. Punching our tickets he said:

“What’s going on?” This was a different greeting than the usual “Good Morning.”

“I’m going to NYC?” I thought maybe that was the wrong answer-

“No, something is going on. It’s not just because you are not in the quiet car- I see it in your face.”

Susan told him that we were going to the Barnes & Nobles on 5th avenue to launch my book “The Perfect Mix.” Carmen beamed and for the rest of the trip told everyone on the car- people I knew and didn’t know. He was my proud ambassador and it didn’t end there.

At his break, Carmen changed out of his uniform, traveled to NYC and was there on 5th avenue at the B&N to get a signed copy of one of the first books I ever sold. He said it was for his daughter.

Train conductors have a tough job. I have seen Carmen deal with belligerent, attention seeking people with calm and aplomb. He has smoothed many a ride for snippy people when the train is delayed. On June 20th, in addition to conductor, Carmen was a member of the community, supporting of one of his own. And, that’s worth holding my nose and navigating Penn Station, even in August.

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Written by Helen Rothberg