A Busy Afternoon at Penn Station

It’s ten minutes past one and a busy sight awaits commuters in Long Island Rail Road’s main concourse at New York City Penn Station. Installed unobtrusively overhead is a giant fiber-optic sculpture called Eclipsed Time, a clock that tracks time using the concept of an eclipse. Few people seem to notice as they rush to catch their trains.

Then the voice of an announcer blares through the concourse informing commuters of a train delay. People let out a visible sigh of frustration. Most of them go back to what they were checking on their smartphones. Conversations resume. Amidst all the sounds of clicking heels and screeching of trolleys and luggage wheels, it becomes suddenly impossible to ignore the harmonious voice of Nadine Simmons. She has her corner place by a flower stand, belting out one song after the other.

A few pause to listen, some applaud Simmons at the end of her performance, but most of them just walk past by, heading to the next destination that awaits them. One woman makes use of this wait time to eat her lunch. She doesn’t have a place to sit, but is not deterred. She leans against a concrete pillar and opens her takeaway lunch. Chow mein it is, and the delicious smell wafts through the air as she quickly gobbles it up before the train arrives.

Not far away people stop at a Starbucks to get their midday coffee fix, while a few others stop by the Hudson newsstand to purchase magazines or ask for directions. A little farther ahead, a young girl rummages through a bag of toys her mother has bought for her. She picks up a pink-colored pair of wings. Noticing this, her mom gently prods, “Want to put them on?”. The girl giggles and says, “This is my best birthday ever!” before nodding assent.