Julie has a story about how an angel made riding a Segway is a religious experience. Well, I’ll see your Segway and raise you one Subway.
Back when I was still a bright-eyed neophyte philangelus, I devoured every reliable book I could get about angels. As I mentioned before, I did most of my reading on the subway on the way home from high school (and given the general reliability of the subway, I’d often have long stretches of sitting in tunnels or at stations, so as you can imagine, I got a lot of reading done! Twice a quarter I’d end up being late for school, and it was always due to the subway getting stuck somewhere.)
All of these books stated that in addition to individuals having their own personal guardian angels, angels were assigned over countries, institutions, locations, and organizations. (You can see this in the book of Daniel, by the way, with a guardian of Persia, and in Revelation with the angels of the seven churches.)
I realized pretty quickly that if Liechtenstein could have its own guardian angel, and it was smaller than Brooklyn, then surely the New York City subway system should have its own too. I mean, Liechtenstein has a population far far smaller than the number of people moved by any single one of the lines every day! So, in my own inimitable fashion, I said hello to him and thanked him for everything he does.
End of story, right?
Five months later, my report card came home, and I realized that for the past two semesters, I had no latenesses at all. When, as I’ve stated, I’d consistently had two per quarter due to subway malfunctions.
I paid attention and realized how often a train was right there when I arrived at the platform, or how often I ended up standing right where the door would stop. Or how often I’d be standing next to the one person who got up, getting me a seat.
It all added up in a hurry. I thanked the guardian of the transit authority again, apologized for not realizing he was looking out for me, and then began a campaign of thanking him whenever something went right.
This went on for the remaining seven years I was in New York. I eventually began calling him “The G.A.T.A.” and sometimes I’d just chatter at him the way I’d chattered at my own guardian. There were several occasions where I asked for specific help, and it would happen. I can’t go into all the details here (this entry is already pretty long) but he helped immensely. And once he asked me to pray for something too!
I can share one story. In order to get to the closest subway stop, I had to either walk a mile and a half, or else take a bus down Flatlands Avenue. Three bus lines went down Flatlands: the B6, and B11, and the B82. (It’s been renumbered, but I’m using the new one instead of the old one in case you still live there.)
One day I told the GATA, “I love getting the B82s, even though they practically never come, because they’re not going anywhere important. They’re hardly ever crowded and you can always get a seat.”
It’s true: the B6 and the B11 went over by Brooklyn College and to more crowded parts of Brooklyn; plus, they crossed other bus lines, so everyone tended to wait for those. The B82 went up Flatlands and then continued up Flatlands when the other two broke off at Ralph Avenue. It came about once every half hour, as opposed to the other two lines which came once every three minutes if you weren’t particular. I’d go a month at a time without seeing a B82.
Right after that, I started getting the B82 just about every time. I turned it into a game: the B82 would arrive, and I would think, “An angel loves me,” and I would thank him for it.
It must be a lonely job, guarding a subway system that eleven million people love to hate. But he (or his team) does a good job, and I guess he appreciated having someone to notice. I’ve since included him in Seven Archangels: Annihilation, and if my romantic comedy gets published, he shows up there once as well.
One of the joys of going back to New York and riding the subway is that I’m in his “territory” again, and I make sure to say hello.