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Yes, Sancho Panza, chivalry is alive!


May 25, 2016

A track fire that disrupted the Metro-North commute in East Harlem recently left thousands stranded in Grand Central Terminal for their commute home and over the next few days added to their daily trials and tribulations. It is during these times that the cream really rises to the top and we find our modern day knights. As a boy, one of my favorite stories in the Sunday comics was “Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur.” Here were the knights of old in all their glory doing the most glorious and chivalrous of deeds, always ready to defend the right and rescue the fair maidens, wherever they may be.

Years later, another hero emerged in my studies: Don Quixote. Now here was a hero I could relate to, not taking himself so seriously, but believing that he was a force for good. With his trusted sidekick Sancho Panza, he traveled the hills of Spain looking for wrongs to undo and dragons to fight in the shape of windmills. It turns out they are both alive and well on the Port Jervis line.

Our pair of heroes look like they are straight out of the storybooks. “Don” is a tall thin man, grey hair sticking out from under his cap, beard and mustache rather long but neatly trimmed. He wears a different bow tie every day and often looks over the top of his spectacles at the boarding passengers, distracting himself from the day’s New York Times, which he keeps crisply folded. His traveling companion on the daily commute is named Phil, a lawyer by trade, but always in step with “Don,” looking up as passengers board the train.

Trouble on the east side of the Hudson brings commuters to the Port Jervis line on the west side in hope of some relief from the overcrowding. The track fire cident was no exception.

Early in the trip on this particular day, our heroes saw an expectant mother board. They both immediately rose to offer her their seats, as those seats were closer to the door. She thanked them, and they smiled and sat in another seat close by. Next was an elderly woman. Again, both rose and offered the seat and moved to another seat. This continued four more times that morning, and I could see our “Sancho” getting a bit miffed at his “Don.” Yet silently he rose time after time, and time and again they moved. I think when the train reached Suffern and was packed, “Sancho” leaned to “Don” and said “OK, that’s enough; we have done our good deed for the day.” Don replied, “There are never enough good deeds to be done in a day.”