Watches vs Transit

This post started as an e-mail response to a transit e-mail list that somehow had a flurried discussion of wristwatches: German vs Russian vs American; relative quality and value, etc.

We have had a lot of posts in the last few days about timepieces.  I have been struggling to figure out how the subject of collecting expensive watches is related to transit.

Digging into my memory, I have come up with an example.

Experienced transit users may recall a period, perhaps 20 years ago, when NYC Transit was rebuilding the sprawling Herald Square subway station. I found myself navigating the station and heading for the 33 St. PATH station (which as everybody knows has been at 32 St., not 33 St., for the last 80 years or so).

There is a long, wide corridor under Herald Square leading to the PATH station and to the southernmost subway entrances, but during the renovations, it was constricted by plywood paneling into a much narrower, winding passageway. Sight lines were restricted and it was a bit spooky.

Suddenly, I found myself accompanied by three or four residents of the area, young males, not necessarily transit users.

One opened the conversation: “Give me your watch!”
I held up my scratched, aging, barely functional Casio and said, “You want this watch?  It’s almost dead, nobody would give five bucks for it!”

He considered this and said, “Give me money.”  
I replied, “You think I have money? Why do you think I’m in the subway?”

He tried once more, “Give me your shoes!”
I looked down at my worn, scuffed, unshined shoes and said “You really want these old shoes?  They barely fit me, they won’t fit you!”

He started chuckling. He said, “You’re pretty cool!”

By then we had emerged into the broad, lighted PATH area, no doubt with a few cops with nothing to do.
We parted ways and I headed for Hoboken.

And that’s how wristwatches are sometimes related to transit.

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