Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah - "Hallelujah" - Leonard Cohen, 1984

I've titled this blog, "Hallelujah" because of a man on the Q32 bus yesterday. The Q32 runs between Queens and Manhattan in New York. And it so happened that "Hallelujah" became a word that I - a non-religious person - actually heard, for the first time used in every-day speech.

I decided to write about the Queens-Manhattan-bus New York moment, but what could I illustrate it with? Then I remembered, one of my favorite people, Edie Langley, singing it. And I checked on YouTube. Sure enough, here it is.


I particularly like how she sings, a là anglaise as does Leonard Cohen, the writer of the lyrics, "But you don't really care for music, do you?" with "you" pronounced as "you", rather than as the American "ya".

But that's not what this post is on about.

Back to the man on the Q32.

The bus was about 3/4 full and we'd just pulled out from the last stop in Queens, just before the non-stop ride to Manhattan, over the Queensboro Bridge which is now renamed "The Ed Koch Bridge". A few people straggled on board, the last one being a male, born circa 1948. Oh no, another baby boomer!

He looked a little worse for wear. But don't we all? I'd rate him two points up from homeless - 6 on a scale 1:10. His clothes were thread-bare but clean and his hair was gray and longish. No one would have noticed him. Until the driver turned in his seat and said, "Excuse me, I don't mind if you can't pay the fare, if you can't swipe your card, if you don't have a card, but you could at least acknowledge me and not just walk straight past. Say something!"

Mr Baby-Boomer-Not-Paying-a-Fare took absolutely no notice and proceeded to find a spare seat and to sit in it. So the bus driver said it again. Louder.

This time, Mr Not-Paying-a-Fare reacted. "What do you WANT me to say?" he asked.

"Anything," said the bus driver.

"Hallelujah!" responded Mr Not-Paying-a-Fare.

There were a few minutes silence.

Then the driver looked a bit remorseful. He turned to me. "All I want is to be acknowledged," he said. I nodded sympathetically.

He waited a while and then addressed Mr Not-Paying-a-Fare again. He, the driver, obviously felt bad. Maybe Mr Not-Paying-a-Fare was intellectually-challenged. Maybe he had Alzheimers. Maybe he was really poor and embarrassed.

Turning to Mr Not-Paying-a-Fare he asked, politely, "Are you OK, sir?"

And after a slight pause, the response came.

Mr Not-Paying-a-Fare replied,


I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah


Anonymous said...

Gotta love the New York scene.

Anonymous said...

You touched me this time. What communication and what detail between two ..with you three people. Maybe get the chance to share with the driver.

mensajes claro said...

Thats for sure @boggy

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