In New York City, the most populous city in America, the morning commute is significantly different than it is in other places: there are humans — a lot of humans — all around you during the whole trip, which can take hours for some New Yorkers. The jostling of humanity can wear down a commuter’s soul over time.
Even worse: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the extensive subway system, has been having some troubles lately keeping the trains running on time. According to the New York Times, more than 70,000 New Yorkers each month are experiencing subway delays, a number that’s risen from the 28,000 delays per month in 2012.
In the case of Jerich Marco Alcantara, a subway train malfunction had much higher consequences. It caused him to miss his own graduation from nursing school this Tuesday. But the two-hour delay brought the best out of fellow riders.
Although Alcantara’s girlfriend said they left two hours before the graduation ceremony to arrive early, an E-train delay foiled their good planning. As Alcantara realized he would not be receiving a degree from the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing in person, he decided to make an announcement.
“My commencement was already about an hour in,” Alcantara told abc7NY. “I felt like lightening the mood and thanked everyone for ‘coming to my graduation.’ Told them it meant a lot to me, and they applauded it.”
Subway riders then gathered together to throw him a makeshift graduation, complete with music, “awww”s and some sniffles of happy tears.
Poor kid missed his graduation because of the train delay this morning….so we threw him a graduation on the train.
Posted by Nadiya Afzal on Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Alcantara was already wearing the cap and gown—his fellow trapped commuters gave him the pomp and circumstance.
His old and new friends on the train improvised with what they had. Instead of handing him a diploma, one of his friends handed him a cell phone where he had created a “certificate of good job” that read: “yu r a nurse now maybe.” It’s not the college president’s hand-signed signature, but that misspelled scribble is as good as graduating with honors when you’re stuck on a train.
Someone else set the mood by playing the quintessential graduation song, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Others played the role of parent and documented the whole event on their phones to post later on social media.
Alcantara was feeling the love so much that he decided to share a digital copy of his diploma. “If you want a copy of my diploma, turn on AirDrop,” Alcantara told the train. This is the modern subway version of taking a picture with the graduate.
In the end, hours later, the MTA sent out a rescue train to free the passengers after it couldn’t fix the train malfunction. By then, these strangers had bonded together to make one student’s day a little better.
It’s a story of a terrible commute that turned out to be a sweet one due to the sheer positive intention of everyone involved. Sometimes, your fellow subway riders are performance artists unleashing crickets and hell on a train. And sometimes, they’re good Samaritans who will help you make a good graduation memory. And that’s New York City in a nutshell.