I was just rereading some of the earlier posts from this blog. There are some good stories buried in those pages. Ah, memories.
Here’s another good story, never to have appeared in this space before. It’s a story of hope, triumph, and the power of community, but, no, it isn’t sappy.
It was the summer of 1994. The New York Rangers were the Stanley Cup Champions and I was a middle school student in suburban New Jersey. My older sister, 18 at the time, took me into New York City to see the Cup first-hand.
After getting lost on the subway, we made it to our destination. Being the hockey-geek that I am I spent the entire day on inline skates. I should add that these skates were of the bargain basement variety. They were the kind of skates “mom” buys when your feet are still growing. They were the kind of skates whose designers included wheels but didn’t see much reason for said wheels to spin freely. I also carried a plastic street hockey stick with me the entire day.
As we waited for a train to return to New Jersey, I decided it would be a good idea to keep my skates on for the entire ride home. Shortly after stepping on the train I realized that stability was an issue. Just after that, a young man, perhaps three years older me, approached me and took my hockey stick from my hands. He said he would return it, but as he made his way down the subway car, stick-handling a piece of crumpled paper, it became clear he had other intentions.
At that point in my life there was nothing I liked more than hockey. Though it could be easily replaced, I was distraught to see my stick slipping away. I was also immobilized by a combination of fear and bad bearings. That’s when my sister sprung into action.
She took it upon herself to impede my adversary. Noticing that she was possibly overmatched a group of strangers approximately her age took it upon themselves to join the cause. Not long after that my stick was back in my hands and the passengers on my subway car had formed a wall of humanity that forcibly separated my attacker from me. As I exited the train a middle-aged Asian woman literally restrained the kid who tried to steal my stick. My memory isn’t perfect but I’m pretty sure she stood in a martial arts pose.
Years later I saw a Spiderman movie with a scene reminiscent to the one I’ve just described. I don’t recall exactly what happens in that movie, but I do remember New Yorkers uniting to the call of “You mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.” How true.
So, how does this relate to you?
Well, for one, if those people on the subway hadn’t acted when I needed them Franktuary might not exist today. Furthermore, I’d like to believe this sort of thing happens in Pittsburgh all the time. Certainly it’s a goal we can work toward no matter where we call home!
The next time you have a New Yorker, I hope this story comes to mind. On September 11, it seems appropriate to salute the people of New York in this space.