2. The Commuter’s Lament/A Close Shave at 42 Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal Station

Commuter's Lament Subway Artwork
Courtesy of the MTA. Photo Credit: Rob Wilson

Norman B Colp wrote a poem titled “The Commuter’s Lament/A Close Shave,” inspired by the iconic Burma Shave ads of the 1920s. Those ads consisted of a series of signs displayed across the United States. The artwork was originally only supposed to be a temporary installation, yet the pieces still stand today in the transfer corridor from 42 Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal to Time Square-42nd Street.

The poem reads: “Overslept, so tired, if late, get fired. Why bother? Why the pain? Just go home, do it again.” These lines can be seen mounted overhead on every fifth beam in the corridor. The signs are not meant as a cruel joke, but instead to display the artist’s empathy for the commuters. Colp recalls that in his time commuting, he frequently barely made it to work on time.