Penn Station, New York City

By Nhi

Penn station, or any stations in general, is an interesting place that promises to offer new observations every day. A piece of cake. To any writers facing deadlock in creating a new character.

Standing there for about fifteen minutes, you will see people leave or come back to the city, passers-by who carry on their shoulders overweight bags or do nothing but roll a cigarette with their fingers.

A New York City station, filled with sharp contrasts and multicultural colors, breathes in and out waves of life that never stop moving.

A line of four African American men was standing in front of the station’s front doors. According to the label on the back of their dark green shirts, they were ticket agents, waiting for new customers who would be willing to pay $34 for a bus ride through the streets of this charming city.

”Hello. Bus. Bus. Bus”

The ticket agent’s deep voice was loud, but then died down like whispers under the noise of vehicles running and people conversing. It was reasonable that he became tired. 12PM, lunch time already. Sometimes, losing patience, he dashed forward, towards travelers who just came out of the station. Wow, he must have been good at advertising to finally drag an Indian family to a corner of the street and showed them the bus routes.

An old white man with silver hair struggled to carry his conspicuous belly forward. He walked one step at a time, trying to hold his bag tight. A group of teenagers, pulling their luggage, chatted heartily about what they would do that night in Philadelphia. People seemed oblivious to the gray skin of the sidewalk, on which white streaks forming unidentified images were carelessly painted.

The sun seemed to shine above the top of our heads. Hair and skin were burning. Unless you were wearing hats, and sunglasses, and maybe sun scream like those middle-aged women. They passed by, leaving scents of perfume that lingered for seconds, but would soon disappear with the wind.

Yet, the wind was not strong enough to stop smoke from floating in the air. A bald, skinny man was leaning against the white wall and enjoying his lunch cigarette. In front of him, an Asian woman was waiting for something, or someone. Besides her laid six bags and five luggage. “Gerry, I am here!” she screamed, waving frantically.

Train station is a place where people come and go. It is where you can see people embarking on a new journey with full of hope and wishes. But, it is also where you may talk to a homeless man who sighed and said: “Let’s say there is no chance of turning life around.” They stood there day by day, holding a sign saying: “Homeless. Any help is appreciated. God bless you.” Penn Station, where you can smell the luxurious perfume, but also meet people who haven’t showered since Christmas and have worn their clothes without changing for two months. Penn Station is for saying farewell to your lover who would be moving to a new state, or waiting anxiously for your Mom who has been away for two long.

You can be exhilarated because “This is the first time I am in New York”, but may also feel sick in your stomach when hearing a homeless person sharing that lying on the street is safer than staying in a shelter.

A station is the starting point of a journey we can never guess what will happen.

And the end of something that lingers in our restless hearts.


5 thoughts on “Penn Station, New York City

  1. An interesting series of observations about a place I have passed through many times. My favorite line was your “…..gray skin of the sidewalk.” That is a real gem. Save it for using another time.


    1. Thanks Robin. I actually read two words “gray skin” somewhere and applied it to some of my writings because I really like it 😀 But I shouldn’t take credit for it because someone else (I couldn’t remember who) created the metaphor.


      1. Little late in getting back to this, but that’s OK that you didn’t come up with the phrase on your own. You saw it and didn’t pass over it. You recognized its quality and savored it. To be a good writer, in my opinion anyway, you have to be able to appreciate good writing by others.


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