Gordon Whiten – a 64-year-old janitor from the Bronx – always catches the 2 train at Jackson Avenue before 6:00 a.m. There’s usually enough room on the last car for him to stretch out, drink his coffee and read the newspaper.
This morning he hoisted his cup and made a toast:
“I know this is dangerous business, but old habits are hard to break.”
Whiten took a big swig and explained:
“If the cops catch me drinking coffee on the train I’m going down for sure. I’ve seen people get tickets for just holding an empty cup. But the coppers ain’t usually out this early so I’m gonna keep going.”
Whiten is headed downtown to the same job he’s had for 45 years.
“They call me a Maintenance Engineer nowadays,” he said, “but that’s just a fancy name. Being a janitor isn’t the greatest job, but having any job is pretty good.”
There was a time when he hoped for more.
“I wanted to be a ballplayer just like every kid does,” Whiten admitted. “I still think about it sometimes when I’m at Yankee Stadium or watching on television.”
He laughed to himself and then continued:
“It’s an old man’s dream now, but any kind of dream can be dangerous business.”
Whiten took another gulp of coffee and went back to his newspaper.