Value v Time

I ride public transit. In order to ride, I need to pay. Though we’ve recently adopted the OMNY system, which allows us to swipe a credit card or an Apple Pay tap, until very recently we had to rely on Metrocards- fare cards that needed to be refilled at the station.

When you need to refill your Metrocard, you go to a machine, insert your card, and you’re given two options:

  1. Add Value
  2. Add Time

Add value or add time.

I had never really thought about the impact of those words until recently, when I read the book Smile The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl. The author became afflicted with Bell’s Palsy after giving birth to twins, and the book is her memoir about dealing with the effects of BP. There is a section where Ruhl talks about refilling her metrocard and facing the options of adding value or adding time…

I have always been confused by these two options, which never fail to glimmer with existential meaning: Do I prefer Value or Time? But isn’t time value? Could I not have them both? A subway car often came by while I contemplated this question: value or time, time or value… Sarah Ruhl

When I read this section, my first thought was: How have I never overthought that as I refilled my metrocard. Maybe I have to turn in my “Biggest Overthinker in the World” badge, because for twenty years, I never had an existential crisis at the machine while opting between value and time… I just always added value and scurried off to the turnstyles…

I never considered adding time- it was always value for me…

I guess I can overthink that statement for a bit…

In my life I guess I do attempt to lead a full life. I guess I would rather have five great years than ten average ones… I mean, I’d probably prefer ten great years…but what if that’s not an option?

What if it’s either/or? What if it’s value or time but not both?

I think I’m always choosing value…

What would you choose: add value or add time?

Fun Times on the 4 Train

On Sunday you got to glimpse my well trod shoe collection. When I need to get from Point A to Point B, I walk and use mass transit…


mass transit….

Mass transit had a lull the past few years, but as vaccinations go up and restrictions go down, more people are using it again. Alas, we also have a situation here where mass transit has it’s share of criminals, homeless, drug addicts, and those who appear to be mentally unstable. This makes it quite the mix of people travelling on the daily.

So one day I was on the subway. There was a guy…let’s just say that while I did not do an evaluation, I would say the guy had some issues.

So the guy is standing in the middle of the somewhat crowded train, and he’s screaming that we are all sinners and we need to repent, except he’s saying it slightly nastier, with a threatening tone.

As someone who has spent her adult life riding mass transit, I know enough to keep my head down, read my book, and not even look in the vague direction of this guy. If you avoid eye contact, you can usually avoid direct confrontation.


Today was my day to me the recipient of direct confrontation. After he got in the face of someone three feet away, he chose to stand right in front of me and scream at me.

Fun times.

I know the guy is definitely off…and probably high as well…and using a threatening tone.

I am avoiding looking at him, because I don’t know what that will unleash…but I catch the eye of a guy to my left, holding the pole. He’s about six feet tall, solidly built, probably in his 30’s. He nods at me: he sees what’s happening and he’s got my back. He positions himself so that he can help if necessary. I always try to see if I have an ally, or if I can help someone…it’s sort of my unwritten rule of the subway- don’t leave a person behind, even if you don’t know them.

The guy finishes his tirade at me…and though it probably lasted less than a minute, it was still terrifying…and his next target is my ally…

I watch the situation, and want to show my support and I have this guy’s back, and all I can think is that this fit young guy must be thrilled to have the short old woman with the ereader ready to back him up…

Luckily the train pulled into the station and the guy got out and everyone left in the car let out a sigh of relief and we all looked at one another and the thought was clearly that we survived that one unscathed…and this was a story to tell about life in the big city…Remember- this whole incident took place in less than four minutes. Four minutes feels like such a short amount of time, but it feels never ending when you are scared.

This incident, and others like it, leave their mark. I’d seen many of these confrontations on the subway in the last 40 years, but this was the first time the person stood in front of me and shouted at me…It’s haunting. This hasn’t stopped me from riding the bus or the subway, but it does make me more alert…reminds me to be aware of my surroundings… I also need to realize my limitations. I am older, I don’t run as fast, nor am I as agile as I once was. I like to think that age doesn’t matter, but alas in situations like this I am not as able to defend myself as I once was. And to be clear, sometimes you can’t defend yourself no matter what, no matter what age or size or whatever.

This was just another day in the life. These are the moments that shape us.

What Inspired Me: August 22

  1. Let me start with this- my daughter went back to college….
  2. Secondly- the best thing about driving home from DC is stopping in Baltimore for Chaps Pit beef. I have no idea what pit beef is, but I know it’s delicious
  3. I love fried green tomatoes (whistlestop optional) – these were pretty good
  4. We did a brief sightseeing jaunt in DC before we headed home-
  5. Had a wonderful in person book club- helped that we all liked the book
  6. Bryant Park has a wonderful “reading room”- outdoor tables and books and magazines. They also sponsor reading/writing events for free. I attended a memoir writing workshop given by Cullen Thomas. He is a wonderful speaker and hope to eventually take a class with him. He also is a cross between James Marsden and Rob Lowe, which in LA speak means he’s quite attractive.
  7. My Tea Society celebrated Coco Chanel’s birthday at Bergdorf Goodman. We had a lovely tea followed by a little quality time at the Chanel counter. There just may be a new lipstick in my collection…every black dress needs a red lipstick every now and then
  8. I saw Aretha. Jennifer Hudson is quite good- however the movie is quite average overall
  9. On my way to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden I experienced subway delays/issues….It was only a track fire and not someone letting their girlfriend drive the train though (true story). As I stood trying to figure out how to get to the garden, all I could think was first subway issue in 18 months- we’re back baby…
  10. Lost Leonardo very interesting if you are an art geek
  11. Obviously- I took time to get in as much self care as possible!!!