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So far…

… so good, as the saying goes. The year has been good to us commuters, trains have heat, snow hasn’t caused any real major delays and the commutes have been relatively uneventful. The rest of the year will be another story. Amtrak is doing a major repair of the tunnels leading into Penn Station. Governor Cuomo made headlines by reviewing the work to be completed and has even suggested that Amtrak be cut out of the project for the new Gateway Tunnel. This tunnel would provide direct access to Penn Station in New York for the Port Jervis line. What a relief that would be for the thousands of us who take the three-hour journey to Manhattan each day from Port Jervis. Time will tell what the real story is and how the rest of the year will go.

Meantime, back in the train cars, we see new commuters starting off the year with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of school children. A woman named Beverly has taken up residence in the seat in front of me and is quite chatty. The first couple of days, she was full of questions that I was only too happy to answer. She brought along her newspaper, her coffee mug and a snack from home and settled in for the journey. Half way through her coffee, she was up in her seat and leaning back to talk again, about anything and everything. She is a sweet person with auburn hair and a ready smile; the mother of three boys in college, one in SUNY New Paltz, one in Syracuse University and some college in Indiana for the third. It is amazing the things people will tell strangers if you just give them an ear and take the time to listen. I have learned of the work her husband does and their decision for her to take a job in the city to help pay tuition. I learned of her love of the outdoors, gardening and pets—she has a poodle and takes care of her son’s goldfish. Mind you, she has been on the train for only a few weeks now, and I feel like I know her whole life. Beverly is quite the animated story teller as well.

Last week, the subject turned to sports. It turns out my new train friend is a Boston fan. She is also head over heels for Tom Brady. Now, with a deep sigh, I must say that I am not interested, and not sure how to proceed with the conversations. I am a New York Giants fan, as hard as that has been this season. The Super Bowl is coming up, and while she is full of facts and figures and stats, I am at a loss for words. As luck would have it both my daughter and son have married Boston fans. Yes, we can all coexist, but there are days when it’s not easy when they gloat—especially now that the Patriots are in the Super Bowl, again.

I do admit that there are days when I close my eyes to play possum in hopes of having a quiet morning trip. Beverly is undaunted and will chat with whomever will give her an ear. It may be time to explain the morning commute rules of sleeping to the newcomer, but until this Super Bowl is over, I’m thinking it’s a lost cause. Heaven help us if the Patriots win. I say this with a smile, since I know this sweet lady will be as excited as any true fan could be. So, if you can’t beat them join them: Go Patriots and go Beverly. I can sleep in the spring.


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