The Subway’s No. 1 Charmer
Inside the cramped and crazed subways of New York, a colorful conductor on the 1 train brightens commutes with off-script announcements.
Riding the subway in New York City, there’s not a whole lot to smile about. Delays, filth, passengers who block the door or take up multiple seats or eat fried chicken—there’s always something to rankle you. And if you’re already having a rotten day (or week or life), everything seems to take on an even bleaker hue under that dim fluorescent lighting, as you’re hemmed in by humans not of your choosing. This condition is what inspired Victor Vasquez, a conductor on the No. 1 Broadway local, to start veering off-script last summer when making routine announcements.
“A lot of people who get on the train have a semi-depressed look on their face,” Vasquez says. “Standing under someone’s armpit, you just want to get home.”
Vasquez, who is twenty-seven, bearded and a tad heavyset, wanted to make straphangers smile with the hope that they might even pay it forward, which is the gist of one of his public service messages from his own repertoire: “Your smile might make…
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