Even though I spent almost three and half hours in total on the Tube yesterday, it wasn’t until I found myself with nothing to read that I learned something profound about community property.
I looked around. I was the only person with a beverage (a Starbucks at that! Embarrassing…believe it or not, could not find a non-Starbucks between St. Martin’s Lane and Piccadilly). No gum. No scratchiti. No mystery fluids. No cops. No cameras.
Derrida I’m not. I kept searching for meaning in the purple and magenta pattern of that upholstered seat (I didn’t say it was St. Martin’s Lane). It then occurred to me that upholstered seats on public transport in some way reflects the respect of its users for each other, unknown strangers who would inhabit the same space seconds, hours, days later, trusting each other to leave it the way they themselves would want it the next morning.
The contrast to New York is too obvious to discuss.
In that moment, I felt awe that the humble upholstery would reflect the care and concern of each and every user. What public resources in New York engender a similar level of respect by its users? Perhaps the Brooklyn Public Library.
I’m on the Board of the Brooklyn Public Library Foundation.