Incentives Matter

Who says you can't buy virtue?  Or at least, a very convincing facsimile?

Yesterday morning a six-foot-tall, two-hundred-pound man fainted on the subway platform at the East 103rd Street station of the 6 train. He tumbled down to the tracks as horrified commuters watched -- and meanwhile, an electronic display indicated that the next incoming 6 train was a mere three minutes away. (Anybody who is used to those displays knows that "3 MINUTES" could easily mean "60 SECONDS" or "15 MINUTES.") Carlos Flores, who was on his way to work downtown, saw the whole thing happen. "I was thinking, if he gets hit I can't go to work. It's Sunday. I can't miss out. It's a time-and-a-half day," he later told the Daily News. So he jumped down to the tracks himself and hauled the unconscious (and much heavier) man to his feet.

"I'm walking him toward the platform. A guy on the platform grabs his hands. Now I'm down there. The train is coming." The train, having been alerted by another commuter through the station agent, stopped before making it all the way into the station, just as Flores climbed out. He didn't wait to be congratulated, however. He hopped on that very 6 train and headed downtown. "I couldn't stay. I had to go to work," Flores said. "Christmas is around the corner. You need these time-and-a-half days." Now if only people would start "saving" those so-called "sick passengers" on the train who get you stuck for 30 minutes during rush hour. Save them by picking them up and running them right onto the platform!

Readers may debate among themselves whether this stands as a testimony to the benefits of capitalism, or the progressive labor movement which gave us time and a half on Sundays.