Penn Station Madhouse: Big Storm’s A-Comin’!

With Labor Day Weekend just a few hours away, The Transom decided to go straight to the source: the Long Island Rail Road section of Penn Station. The trip got off to an inauspicious start, however, when a faux-pas was committed: hugging a young child on the subway.

Her sweatshirt read: ‘Aww someone needs a hug.’ A reminder of that didn’t cut it with her father. “Get outta here,” he said.

In Penn Station, it was nuts. The 3:21 for the Fire Island ferries was leaving soon, as was the 3:58 to Montauk. In the ruckus was Gabby, a 22-year-old assistant at a PR firm in Manhattan: “I’m spending my last weekend in East Hampton!” she said. She looked more 25 than 22. “I was out ’til 4 last night! I’m busted right now!” There was an awkward silence. Was she nervous about the weather warnings? Not at all. “If it’s not the beach, it’s the clubs!”

There was Matthew, a 23-year-old senior at Fordham University, heading “Home to Long Island! Hitting the Bars. Yankee Game. Working. Going to my parents. It’s Labor Day, Man. No more Hamptons!”

A 16-year-old girl was screaming across the LIRR waiting room. “Abby! Abby!”

A baker’s dozen kisses later, Abby and her buddy exchanged train information, then lamented the end of summer. Did Abby happen to know, say, when the Ramaz School was starting fall session? No…. she did not. In a Zarro’s, there was an investment banker, 25, who preferred to remain anonymous.

“My boss doesn’t know I’m gone,” he said. He said he was sneaking off to Fire Island, and took no guff over the idea of the coming 14-foot-waves and 40-knot winds.

There was Jana, a 21-year-old actress heading to Lindenhurst to perform in a play called “Independence.” Would the crappy weather screw her for an audience?

“No way,” she said. “There are three performances and 100 seats in the theater, and I guarantee you it will be a full house every night.”

Dan and Jane McMonigle, both aged 77, were about to hop a train home. Making a makeshift map out of his index finger and middle finger that looked more like a peace sign than anything else, Mr. McMonigle explained where his small town, East Marion, was situated in relation to Montauk. “We live by the water,” he said. “We’ve been in the City, and I’ll be honest. I had enough of this place to last me a long time. Matter of fact,” Dan said, motioning to his neck, “I had it up to here.”

Wow, that’s pretty high to have it up to, The Transom noted.

“Yeah. Dan is not a city person!” said Ms. McMonigle. “We heard there’s gonna be quite a storm coming this weekend. But we were just going to stay home anyway.”

—Theodore Bressman