Laura Lane met Paquita Williams, a New York City subway conductor, when their train was stopped underground for two hours. Generally, Paquita says, most passengers are nice, but "there's times if the train breaks down, people think that's my fault."
With the power out, Paquita walked the length of the train, comforting nervous passengers. That made a real impression on Laura. "You really made everybody on that train connect," Laura says. "We all started talking with each other like human beings. And we left the train and somebody was like, 'Let's do this again tomorrow morning.' "
Putting people at ease is important to Paquita, a single foster mom who's worked for the New York transit system for 15 years. On a dental visit years ago, she recalls, she was afraid and asked the dentist to hold her hand for comfort. He refused, and the memory has always stuck with her. "That's why I do what I do with my passengers," she says. "I want you to know that if you need me to hold your hand, I'm there."
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher