It's hard now to believe, but back in the 80's, Grand Central was a glorified marble urinal for the homeless, and it seemed that beggars outnumbered commuters.
Remember buying monster sized pizza slices from Zaro's? Each slice weighed five pounds.
How about drinking at Lindy's, or buying a cup of coffee at Eclair?
What about the giant Kodak Colorama sign that towered over the east end of the GCT concourse? I used to get excited whenever they changed the photo.
Remember leaving your bags unattended and not having to say something when you saw something?
In more recent years there have also been changes.
Remember the Railfone? These phones were installed on our trains, but they charged users $2.00 a minute. A year after they were installed, everyone, and I mean everyone, had their own cell phone and the Railfone was obsolete.
With all these changes, it's comforting to know that some things stay the same:
Rocky is arguably the most well known, and notorious passenger on Metro North. He rides all three lines and all the conductors know him. I've known Rocky since he was a crazy, mixed up teenager. Back in the day, he used to dress as a male, but he slowly began to change. First came the Tina Turner wigs, then the platform shoes. He eventually graduated to hot pants with "boy toy" plastered across the back.
I remember him telling me of one memorable Thanksgiving, when he he "dressed up" for his grandmother. It nearly killed her.
He was on my train last week and I asked if I could take his picture (bottom) and post it on my blog. He agreed, but said that I was crazy to put a picture of a cross dresser on the Internet. He was dressed in a micro mini, a thong, and was wearing 12" stiletto heels when he said this...and I'm the crazy one!
Another old friend visited last week:
This is why my wife doesn't want me wearing my work boots in the house. You know, eggs, larvae, etc...
I was working a Stamford Local when a passenger spotted my friend here,"ROACH!!!" he screamed. I'm no Entomologist, but I was going to correct him and say that this is technically a water bug (at least this is what my New York co-workers call them), but then, after doing some research for this story, I found out that he was right, this is a roach- an American Cockroach to be exact. Not to be confused with the smaller, German Cockroaches, who also ride our trains. I think the passenger wanted me to kill it, but when the bug is big enough (two inches) to have its own zip code, I draw the line. Instead, I asked it to say "cheese" and I snapped its picture (above).
Here's something that hasn't changed in 35 years:
Hold on folks, the new M8's are coming in late 2009.