All the White People, Sing!

Today is a “Grid-Lock Alert Day” as if it is special or different from the traffic jams we get most days. There are about six or seven of these Grid-Lock Alert Days throughout the holiday season in NYC. Some are understandable: the night of the Rockefeller tree lighting or Black Friday, for instance. But today, who knows?

We are also getting a snowstorm with expected accumulation of about three inches in the City and up to six or seven inches upstate. In NY this doesn’t faze us in the least. We are all at work and school (though some schools upstate are planning to close early) and watching the snow come down outside the window. You cannot call out from work, or if you do, plan to use a personal day.

The Grid-Lock Alert and snow combine to make the subway much more crowded than usual. People who might normally drive or take the bus shuffle underground to avoid traffic snarls. On the 2 train we are smooshed together like a threesome in a twin bed, everyone getting a little feisty and irked.

So it is into this environment that a man walks into the train car, complete with guitar and amplifier to spread some holiday cheer. I can’t see him, but he warms up with some random chords. As soon as the doors close (it’s standard protocol to wait until the doors close), he launches into “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town,” but with his own twist.

“He sees you when he’s sleeping, little girl in the red coat. He knows when you’re awake, man with the big hat. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, Mr. Wall Street guy, so be good for goodness sake…

“Okay, you know how it goes. Sing along with me. White people, you join in, too!

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. Oh he surely is. Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. Right here to Brooklyn, USA…”

He finishes that song and decides, apparently, that the people on this car are collectively not much into the spirit at this hour of the morning. Maybe The Jackson Five will help.

“This one is dedicated to the lady with the glasses.

“You and I must make a pact. We must bring salvation back. Where there is love, lady with the glasses, I’ll be there.

“Sing along with me, lady with the glasses. If you should ever find someone new, I’d know he’d better be good to you.”

The lady with the glasses is not singing along. No one is. But people are chuckling behind their newspapers and books.

“Now, all the white people sing! I’ll be there. I’ll be there. Just call my name, and I’ll be there.”

I leave the train and the guy singing, feeling just a little bit better than I did about 30 minutes ago.


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