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May 17, 2011
It was busy and loud on the subway: a confused man on my left chanted to himself about meaning no disrespect to women, while an exhausted child wailed from her stroller on the other side of the car, her mother grim and angry, the man next to them gamely seeking to calm her by waving a magazine back and forth before her eyes. A beggar with an impressive pulpit voice proclaimed his need as he walked down the aisle, and the train man had his volume turned all the way up, scaring us all out of our socks whenever he announced a stop.

I almost hadn't made it into the car -- I am slower than most other riders, and am usually the last one in. Many's the time I've missed a train by one second -- one second! -- because I can't get up the stairs fast enough to make it across the platform to the door, a mere ten feet. And so I was a little winded as I made my way into the car, and would have welcomed a seat. -- naturally, there was no seat to be had. The train lurched into motion as I reached up for something to hang onto, and I nearly fell across the laps of the several riders seated along the wall. Sorry, I
said, so sorry, righting myself as best I could without grabbing onto the rider next to me. She glared at me and turned away. The wailing child and the chanting man took no notice. I'm a great believer in public transportation, but it's not for sissies.

From the other end of the car came a humming sound. Within seconds it had built in volume and taken shape, and the sound of rhythmic clapping formed the hum into a song.

Been working for Jesus a long time (I'm not tired yet).
Been running for Jesus. Long time (I'm not tired yet).

Four men in jeans and sweatshirts made their way through the car, clapping and singing. One carried a paper bag into which we could put a coin if we wanted to. They stopped in front of the crying child for a moment to serenade her a bit. She quieted right down.

Been singing for Jesus a long time (I'm not tired yet).
Been running by day and praying by night ( I'm not tired yet).

The one with the paper bag was the lead singer. He had a fine baritone and a grave but somehow joyous presence. I caught his eye and smiled, fishing a dollar bill out of my purse. I've heard these guys before. They're often on the A train, one step ahead of the police -- singing on the subway like this is against the law.

I've gotta get going it's a mighty hard fight (I'm not tired yet).
No, I'm not tired yet!
No, I'm not tired yet!
No, I'm not tired yet!

They got off at Fulton Street, the last stop before Brooklyn. So did the chanting man. I stayed on a few stops into Brooklyn. I'd been working all weekend for Jesus, too, and had been weary when I got on the train. Weary, and a little sorry for myself.

I was fine now, though.
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