SEPTA GIRL: Out Of The Mouths Of Babes


BY PHILLYGRRL So, I’m waiting for the Broad Street subway at City Hall. It’s game day. Phillies vs. the Nationals. The station has only a few Phillies fans left. It’s already a half hour past the first inning and the usual sports crowd has long gone. Suddenly, the quiet is broken by a tiny voice. A little boy, maybe three or four, wearing a Phillies cap and jersey, is tugging on his father’s hand. He points to the subway tracks. “It’s scary in there, Papa,” he says, in a trembling voice. Only the boy’s s’s come out as th’s, so he’s really saying ‘thcary.’

“It’s not that scary,” says the father. They sit,the little boy pressed close to his father’s side. The boy squeezes his eyes tightly and shudders.

SeptaGirl.jpgSEPTA babies are the best. You can’t miss ’em.You’ll see them in the mornings, happily clutching a sippy cup, while their weary mothers feed them Cheerios. And in the evenings, they babble away in their own language, lugging stacks of fingerpaintings and Popsicle stick sculptures. Their happiness is a strange sight among the grime and monotony that often accompanies a public transportation experience. Perhaps it is the ride itself, the swell and flow of the bus/subway/train that soothes them until they are more agreeable than normal. Whatever the case, it’s hard to keep your stoic “don’t mess with me, man” city face when a toddler is singing “Twinkle, twinkle little star,” in your ear.

On the other side of the tracks, the subway comes in. It’s loud. The boy, who had slid off the bench and had been inching closer and closer to the edge of the platform, stiffens and makes a swift dash for his father’s lap. “The train is scaring me, the train is scaring me, papa!” he says. “I don’t like it at all.”

“It’s okay,” says his father. “We’re going to the game. It’s going to be fun.”

“The game,” asks the boy. “Oh yeah, the gaaaaame.” He nods his head approvingly. The subway car pulls in front of them. The boy screams again. “Oh wow, papa! It’s an orange choo-choo! Look, papa!” When he sits in his seat, his eyes widen. “It’s orange everywhere,” he exclaims. “Look, papa. Orange, orange, orange,” he points. When the car starts to move, he is entranced. “Wow, we’re going backwards, papa. We’re going back home.”

When the Walnut-Locust station comes, the doors open. “How do the doors open like that, papa?” asks the boy.

“It’s high tech, real high tech,” says his father.

The boy squeals happily as the trains speeds up. “We’re going chuper, chuper, chuper fast, papa!” he says loudly. The other passengers in the car smile at him.

“Yes,” says his father, “we are going super fast.”

The boy turns to me. “We’re going to the game,” he says proudly.

“Shhh,” says his father. He looks at me apologetically.

The boy turns to his father. “Papa, I love the orange choo-choo.”

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