This is the fourth in a special TBTAM post series called “I Get It On the Streets“. Links to the next post in the series are at the end of each post. Enjoy!
Vinnie is the MTA bus dispatcher who works on the corner near my kid’s grade school. For years, every weekday from September through June, our girls walked past that corner to their school, usually in the company of our baby sitter, although I was occasionally along for the walk. And Vinnie was there, rain or shine, always with a hello and never, ever without a smile.
Vinnie is the quintessential New Yorker, with a Brooklyn attitude and the accent to match. He’s also a pretty cool guy – In addition to cutting a suave figure in his MTA uniform, he sports a little earring in one ear and has a trim pony tail. I’ve never gotten close enough to tell, but I’ll betcha’ he wears a nice after shave.
Vinnie knows my kids by name, and is great buddies with our baby sitter, but he just calls me “Mom”. And that’s just fine with me.
These days, the girls have moved on to new schools, but they still pass his corner almost daily, more often with friends instead of our sitter. When I pass, Vinnie comments to me how beautifully they are growing up, and how time flies…
You may wonder what that is under the tree there where Vinnie is standing. Glad you asked – It’s his Graveyard of Fame…
It started out as a funny little Rock n’ Roll Graveyard, a “tongue-in-cheek” tribute to Vinnie’s favorite dead rock and rollers – John Lennon, Freddy Fender, and Richie Valens, to name a few. They each had their own little tongue depressor tombstone, some fancier than others, all special in their own way.
Over the years, the graveyard has grown into a memorial to anyone famous who has died and who Vinnie decides is worthy of a special place in his cemetery. June Allyson, Billy Preston, Rosa Parks. (Who else can you spot?) Markers come and go, some are stolen at night, some are added by strangers, but all are ultimately vetted by Vinnie. The graveyard has made him a minor celebrity here in the Big Apple, and even garnered a recent photo op in the NY Daily News.
When I walked by the other day, Vinnie made sure I saw his most recent addition to the graveyard…
l’ll bet everyone in the neighborhood has a Vinnie story. But since this is my blog, you get to hear mine –
One morning about 3 years ago, my eldest daughter left her lunch in our building lobby on her way to school. Coming along just a few minutes behind her, I saw it on the table and decided to try to catch up to her. I did pretty well for the first few blocks, but gradually, weighed down with my laptop and wearing heels, I began to lose steam. She was in sight, a block away, but the wind was blowing towards me, so I got no response as I yelled her name at the top of my lungs.
As I approached Vinney’s corner, he saw me and immediately sized up the situation. “I’ll get her, Mom !” he cried, and like the winning runner in a relay race, grabbed the lunch bag from me and delivered it my daughter, making it back to his corner almost before I could finish crossing the street.
Now that’s a dispatcher!
Next up: The Knife Sharpening Guy