Dear Subway Musician,

Yes, you. You with the finger on the pulse of modern urban subterranean society. You who are ready, with the press of a button, to deliver exactly the sort of musical inspiration that busy commuters need. And right now it’s the anthem to a 1976 film about a triumphant underdog who defied the odds to do battle with… uh… a boxing guy? Honestly, I’ve never seen a Sylvester Stallone movie. But I have run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and, more importantly, I’m in the subway right now hauling two large bags of groceries. And I’m doing it to this invigorating soundtrack.

One minute I was thinking, did I really need to buy a whole bag of tangelos? Aren’t they weighing me down? Making the cumbersome task of getting home even more cumbersome? Double cumbersome? But the next minute I was hearing the uplifting strains of your enchanting siren song. A song so powerful, it wouldn’t matter if it was blasted over a loudspeaker or blown through a plastic tube into a keyboarded mouth instrument.

You get it, life’s a struggle. And you’ve seen more life rushing by than anyone else. That’s why you rely on your trusty instrument to provide a reprieve from this weary world, to take my mind off the pungent odor of urine, the scurrying of well-fed rats, and the handles of the brown paper sacks cutting into my hands. As perspiration drips down your bald head onto your white shirt, you part a sea of bustling travelers hauling black backpacks and hefty New Yorker tote bags, issuing your call to tell me to Just. Keep. Going. Keep moving forward. Don’t stop. I can hear the determined motivation bursting from every warbly note. You know just what I need. And no amount of fruit can hold me down.

Right when I was thinking of setting these bags on the ground, taking a break to wipe my forehead and rotate my wrists, I heard your infectious melody, your sweet sounds of encouragement, and I knew you wanted me to continue on. On through this subway station, onto the train, on through a few stops to my neighborhood, and up four flights of stairs to the tiny room that is a totally legal sublet (if anyone asks) without stopping.

And when my subway train arrives, in nine minutes… no wait, eleven minutes… okay at an indeterminate future time cause maybe they’re doing maintenance or something?… when I finally get on that train, I’ll think of you, dear subway musician. And I’ll raise my arms in triumph into the air. (That’s what Rocky does, right? When he wins?) Yeah, I’ll raise my arms up high. I mean, after I set these bags down. They’re very heavy.

Yours,
Nicole

P.S. Sorry, I just didn’t have any change for a tip.

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