Grace notes

Today I happened across an article in the Times about a secret one minute grace period New York commuter rail factors in on all departing schedules. The piece was nothing special, and a good 350 words too long, but having just had a day on Metro North Thursday, it stuck with me. Evidently a unwritten tradition in New York rail going back decades, "gate time" is the extra minute it took for the last passenger through said gate as it closed, to make it to the train. Thus the train I took to New Haven the other day, listed everywhere from departure board to paper schedule as the 10:08 was in actuality parked until 10:09. At least in theory.

While in New Haven I stopped in at the Anchor. I was meeting up with an old friend whom I hadnt sat down with in about 23 years— basically since the days we might have hung out at the Anchor. The city is the same, the bar is the same,
literally, and we are the same people. But not. Twenty-three years alternately slip away and intervene again.

Unfortunately I had one eye on the clock because I was cold, tired and didn't want to miss the 6:57
train. All of a sudden it was 6:35, it was raining and I needed a cab. As I was getting frantic my friend says "Dont worry, its bar time." Bar time? Setting the time ahead with a traditional fifteen minute grace period to make sure the bar closes promptly after last call. How did I not know this?

As an aside: I always think it odd how literally the clock is thought of-- as though it were somehow connected to time itself. As though a clock were like a radio tuning in to the time airwaves...

Photo by CarbonNYC


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